Image of a Husky protected support vehicle, being loaded onto an Oshkosh, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) truck in ‘field conditions’ by 2nd Battalion, Corps of The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers or (2 Close Support Battalion REME). Image Credit: MOD.UK

European Defence Agency (EDA) published its annual Defence Data report for the year 2019, detailing defence spending by the 26 EDA Member States. In 2019, total defence expenditure stood at €186 billion, marking a 5% increase on 2018, and making it the highest level ever recorded by EDA since it began collecting data in 2006. EDA’s report also finds almost all Member States increased their overall defence spending in 2019, with significant increases on procurement of new equipment.

Highest defence expenditure in 15 years

At €186 billion, total defence expenditure corresponds to 1.4 % of the 26 EDA Member States’ gross domestic product (GDP) and marks the fifth year of consecutive growth. The 5% rise in spending recorded in 2019 represents the strongest increase since the general trend of defence spending was reversed in 2015 following the financial crisis.

EDA’s Defence Data report also finds strong variations in growth in defence spending among Member States, ranging from increases of 0.01% to 125%. Of the 26 Member States, 23 raised defence expenditures compared to 2018, four by more than €1 billion, with only three decreasing their spending in 2019.

Defence data 2019 key findings

EDA’s report, based on data provided by Ministries of Defence, also finds that total defence expenditure represented 2.9% of total government expenditure. In 2019, EDA Member States:

  • Spent €41.4 billion on defence investments (equipment procurement and research and development) which corresponds to an increase of 19% compared to 2018;
  • Reached the benchmark of spending at least 20% of total defence expenditure on defence investment for the first time since 2010 with 22% overall;
  • Allocated 83.1% of defence investments to procure new equipment, whereas funding for defence R&D remained limited to 16.9%.

EDA Chief Executive, Jiří Šedivý said: “European defence spending reaching a new high is a positive development and clear response to Member States’ threat perception. Despite this progression, defence budgets remain vulnerable, with the economic impact of Covid-19 yet to be felt. Increased spending on defence is a positive trend that should be sustained and enhanced going forward with the additional benefit of the EU defence initiatives. The regular review in the CARD framework and the fulfilment of the PESCO commitments should contribute positively to better spending and ultimately to the cooperative development of innovative, interoperable and effective capabilities.

Worrying fall in collaborative defence spending

Despite the rise in total defence expenditure, collaborative defence spending has gone backward. In 2019, Member States spent a total of €7 billion on the procurement of new equipment in cooperation with other Member States, representing a fall of 6% compared to 2017. Member States conducted 20% of their total equipment procurement in cooperation with other EU Member States in 2019, falling well short of the 35% collective benchmark and marking a significant drop off since of the relatively high 27% recorded in 2017.

Defence Research & Technology investment continues to lag

In 2019, defence Research and Technology (R&T) spending amounted to €1.7 billion, marking an increase of 13% compared to 2018. However, unlike total defence spending which now surpasses 2007 levels, investment in defence R&T is much slower to recover and remains roughly €380 million below its 2007 high.

Investment in defence R&T remains insufficient and Member States fall collectively short of reaching the collective benchmark of spending 2% of their total defence expenditure on defence R&T. Although 2019 saw a modest rise with 0.9% allocated, up from 0.8% in 2018, no Member State achieved the 2% benchmark with only four nations spending more than 1% of their total defence expenditure on defence R&T.

Background

EDA collects defence data on an annual basis, and has done so since 2006, in line with the Agency’s Ministerial Steering Board Decision of November 2005. The Ministries of Defence of the Agency’s 26 Member States provide the data. EDA acts as the custodian of the data and publishes the aggregated figures in its booklets.

All data is collated (“total incorporates 26 EDA Member States”), and it has been rounded. Defence expenditure figures are provided in constant 2019 prices, in order to take inflation into account and allow for a comparison across years.

Following the exit of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union, this year’s figures no longer include the defence expenditure data of the UK.

  1. EDA Defence Data Report 2018-2019
  2. EDA Defence Data webpage
  3. The European Defence Agency (EDA), the hub for European defence cooperation:
    1. Created in 2004 to support and facilitate defence cooperation in Europe, EDA has become the place where countries willing to develop their defence capabilities collaboratively can do so.
    2. EDA’s expertise and activities cover the whole spectrum of cooperation: from harmonising requirements to delivering operational capabilities; from research & technology (R&T) and innovation to developing technology demonstrators; from training and exercises to support to CSDP operations.
    3. EDA also closely engages with the European defence industry to enhance Europe’s defence technological and industrial base and help make the industry stronger and more competitive.
    4. The Agency’s role and impact have constantly grown, especially with the implementation of the EU’s Global Strategy (2016) which also led Member States to reinforce the Agency’s mission in 2017.
  4. Follow #EUdefence on social media (TwitterLinkedInInstagramYouTube) for more and visit our website www.eda.europa.eu.