Europe Continues To Militarize, Despite Austerity Measures

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/National War College Military Image Collection

In the last five years, the global weapons trade has grown by 24 per cent in comparison with the 2002-2006 period, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) announced on Monday.

Predictably, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 per cent of global arms imports, but what is unusual perhaps is that debt-ridden Europe imported more arms in this period (19 per cent) than the Middle East (17 per cent), the Americas (11 per cent) and Africa (nine per cent).

A major reason could be that Europe remains under pressure to maintain military standards, despite the financial crisis, because of Obama’s new military policy will be more focused on the Pacific region, as opposed to Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa, according to the AP.

The 27 governments of the EU members spend about €200 billion ($265 billion) on defence annually (topped only by the United States), and have recently (with the exception of Denmark) decided to develop certain joint military projects and pool resources to deal with austerity and budget cuts, according to the AP. “Pooling and sharing means to generate more defence for the same money.” Claude-France Arnould, head of the EU’s European Defence Agency, said.

But data from SIPRI shows that while defence budgets have decreased, military spending continues to be an important part of governments’ fiscal plans (the Guardian explains how debt-laden Greece continues to spend massive amounts on arms).

These are the top military spenders in Europe:

  1. The UK: $59.6 billion
  2. France: $59.3 billion
  3. Russia: $58.7 billion
  4. Germany: $45.2 billion
  5. Italy: $37 billion
  6. Turkey: $17.5 billion
  7. Spain: $15.4 billion
  8. The Netherlands: $11.2 billion
  9. Greece: $9.4 billion
  10. Poland: $8.9 billion
  11. Norway: $6.7 billion

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