German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Tuesday that she plans to fulfill the commitment she made in Berlin with NATO allies to increase the country’s defense budget amid strong criticism from the U.S. government.
At the last meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in July 2018 in Brussels, President Donald Trump said the allies were not meeting the defense spending targets of 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014, according to Reuters.
According to Forbes Germany, Europe’s largest economy, currently invests 1.2% of its GDP in defense.
At an event in the city of Stralsund Merkel said that Germany takes the 2% target very seriously and added: “We said we want to achieve 1.5% by 2024. And that is our common will.”
The conservative leader explained that defense spending will gradually increase from 1.41% by 2020 to 1.5% by 2024.
Merkel’s statements come after the U.S. ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, said he considers it “offensive” for U.S. taxpayers to pay for the defense of Europe and that his government could withdraw part of the 50,000 troops from the bases that protect Germany and the rest Europe.
“It is actually offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told a German news agency in early August, according to Fox News.
In April, the White House pointed out in a statement that the United States alone accounts for the vast majority of NATO defense spending, with 3.39% of its GDP.
“Germany, honestly, is not paying their fair share,” the president said. “I have a great feeling for Germany … but they are not paying what they should be paying. So we’re paying for a big proportion of NATO, which basically is protecting Europe.”
President Trump has repeatedly criticized other NATO members for failing to reach the 2% minimum, especially Germany, something he pointed out again in June during his visit to the UK, according to Reuters.