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Tell us if you think Britain should increase its NATO defence spending this year

Defence spending in Central and Western Europe is now at its highest level since the last year of the Cold War, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The report revealed that total European military spending reached €552 billion (£476 billion) in 2023, representing a 16 percent increase from 2022 and a 62 percent increase from 2014.

The UK allocated 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defence in 2023.

This makes it the top spender among European nations. The British Ministry of Defence has announced plans to increase this figure to 2.5 percent, though domestic economic challenges have delayed the goal’s realisation.

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The consistent rise in European military spending began in 2014, following Russia‘s annexation of Crimea, but the pace accelerated after Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The conflict has caused governments across Europe to increase their defence budgets significantly.

While the UK leads in total spending, other European countries have also made significant increases in their defence budgets. Germany’s military expenditure grew by 48 percent between 2014 and 2023.

To meet NATO‘s 2 percent GDP target for defence spending, the German government established an extra-budgetary fund in 2022.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz publicly committed to reforming Germany’s defence approach and transforming the military after the invasion of Ukraine, describing the moment as “Zeitenwende” (turning point).

Central European countries, particularly those close to Russia and Ukraine, have seen substantial increases in their defence spending.

Poland made the largest proportional increase between 2022 and 2023, allocating 3.8 percent of its GDP to defence, though it still fell short of its declared goal of 4 percent.

Polish President Andrzj Duda urged NATO members to increase their defence spending earlier this month, expressing concerns over Russia‘s potential future aggression.