Yesterday Brussels foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini bragged that the bloc will still be the world’s second biggest military spender even minus the UK.
But the latest figures show that the EU27 would actually slip into third place behind China in such an eventuality and would trail the US by even further still.
Federica Mogherini made the claims about the size of EU defence expenditure
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The Italian eurocrat made the remarks as she dismissed the effect of Brexit on the bloc’s future military plans as negligible.
Ms Mogherini said that because the UK only contributes three to five per cent to Brussels’ current missions it will not be missed by the other states.
Britain has the biggest and best equipped military, navy and air force on the continent and is its only country ranked as a ‘global power’ in defence.
Ms Mogherini, one of the EU’s top ranked officials, said the remaining 27 member states have “huge potential” if they pool military resources.
She told a press conference: “If you put together the defence budgets of all the EU28 member states, and even if you put together the budgets of defence of 27 member states minus one, still it’s the second largest budget on defence in the world.
“Which means that we have huge potential if we act together, spending together.”
We have huge potential if we act together, spending together
However, defence spending figures compiled by the respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) do not support her assertion.
In March the Swedish researchers published the most up-to-date statistics available on defence spending, detailing how much cash governments dedicated to military matters in 2016.
The ‘current’ figures, chronicling verified spending, show that the US is way out in front as the world’s biggest military power, devoting a whopping £470 billion to defence.
America was followed in the global league table by the European Union as 28, including Britain, which combined spent £190 billion on its individual national militaries.
In third was fast rising China whose defence contributions ballooned to a massive £165 billion, signalling its ambitions to become a truly global player.
NATO training exercises
Wed, June 8, 2016
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty
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Polish troops land with parachutes at the military compound near Torun, central Poland as part of the NATO Anaconda-16 military exercise
However, once Britain’s defence budget of £38 billion for 2016 is deducted from the EU’s overall figure, the remaining 27 member states account for just £152 billion of military spending.
Ms Mogherini yesterday lamented the fragmented nature of Europe’s defence compared to the US, and said the continent had an “output gap we need to fix”.
She said the 28 EU member states “spend 50 per cent of what our American friends spend on defence and the output of our investments in defence is 15 per cent”, though the SIPRI figures put EU spending at 40 per cent of the US.
Yesterday defence ministers met in Brussels to sign off on an ambitious package of proposals to boost EU defence cooperation including increased pooling of funding and the setting up of a joint military HQ.