Mind the Gap: Has UK military spending fallen below the NATO guideline and German military spending?

28 April 2020

According to UK government figures supplied to NATO, Britain’s defence expenditure in 2019 was £46.9 billion (or to allow comparison, $60.8 billion). This was the equivalent of 2.14% of gross domestic product (GDP, which is the total value of everything produced in the country). More importantly, it seemed to confirm that Britain’s military spending remained above the NATO guideline that member states should spend at least 2% of GDP on their armed forces.

However, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which has been crunching global military expenditure data since 1968, UK defence spending in 2019 was $48.7 billion or 1.7% of GDP. Not only do the SIPRI data suggest that UK military spending may have fallen below the NATO guideline, it also suggests that it has fallen behind both Germany ($49.3 billion or 1.3 per cent of GDP) and France ($50.1 billion or 1.9% of GDP).

What accounts for these differences in the various assessments of UK military spending, and in particular, the $11.2 billion gap between the NATO and SIPRI data (under the exchange rate used by SIPRI)? And does it matter?

Read the attached pdf briefing to find out more.

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briefing_74_mind_the_gap.pdf 160.18 KB