Angela Merkel is reluctant to let Germany become Europe's biggest armed forces
Europe's largest economy would add £24bn ($30bn) to the global spending shortfall if it commits to spending the recommended two per cent of GDP on defence, Fabrice Pothier has said.
The head of policy planning at NATO's secretary-general from 2010 until June 2016 has called Germany the "swing state" of European defence in response to US Defence Secretary James Mattis yesterday threatening the US will "moderate its commitment" to the alliance unless member states put more money into defence.
Mr Pothier, writing on the Politico website, said: "What we're not likely to hear is that the answer to the alliance's spending woes largely hinges on just one country: Germany."
What we're not likely to hear is that the answer to NATO's spending woes largely hinges on just one country: Germany
Berlin has only committed to marginal increases since 2014, keeping European defence spending between 1.2 and 1.3 per cent of GDP, which the international policy expert calls "embarrassingly low considering Europe's share of global GDP is larger than the Americans'".
However, the senior associate at leading security consultancy Rasmussen Global, questioned whether Germany should, or can, becoming Europe's leading military power.
Ex-NATO adviser Fabrice Pothier said Germany could fix much of NATO's money problems
The German government was initially reluctant to sign-up to NATO's defence spending pledge but its defence ministry has managed to secure some sturdy increases, with Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly committing to an increase in defence spending.
However, the country is still falling short of its two per cent pledge and much of its budget is spent on personnel despite its armed forces having a limited ability to deploy troops or allies' troops.
Mr Pothier criticised German spending pledges, saying they are "usually met in Paris with an ironic shrug that it will only serve to make German officer pensions more attractive".
Added to that is the issue of a balanced budget and a pacifist mindset which are key principles of post-war Germany and will be difficult to break, he said.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
11 things you need to know about NATO Tue, February 14, 2017
NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4th April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
Play slideshow Getty Images 1 of 11
Every member country, no matter how large or small, has an equal say in discussions and decisions. Photo shows: Signing the North Atlantic Treaty which marked the beginning of NATO, 1949.
Mr Pothier's outlook for NATO spending brings about a gloomy conclusion, with the expert saying a recent meeting of former Pentagon and US military officials with senior European officials found neither side "could properly defend Europe from Russian hybrid attacks" because the US is "over committed globally" and will only commit to a marginal increase of spending in Europe which is falling behind in terms of modern warfare capabilities.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis threatened to reduce US NATO support
If every NATO member paid its two per cent target NATO would have £80billion more to spend
- Nato needs stronger missile defence after Iran tests
- US Military helicopters arrive in Bremerhaven for NATO
- Senator Graham: Trumps’s Russia contact would be a ‘game changer’
He added: "Other important European players — such as Italy, Spain and the Netherlands — are either too small or too economically weak to have much of an effect on the European defence balance.
"In this scenario, Germany's $30 billion could make all the difference between a stronger Europe or a weaker one.
"Short of that, any talk of a European defence union, or even of a European pillar within NATO, will remain just that — talk."
- NATO must focus on tackling Islamic terror, ex-colonel says
- Putin 'deploys NEW MISSILES violating Cold War treaty'
- Putin’s aggression prompts Spain to bolster Nato forces with resources