Record-Breaking Defence Investment: EU's Push for Modernization Amidst Global Challenges

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According to data released by the European Defence Agency, 2022 marked a historic high for total defence spending across European Union (EU) member states.

These nations collectively allocated €240 billion for their defence requirements, representing a 6 per cent surge compared to 2021. Notably, six out of the twenty-seven member states exhibited an increase exceeding 10 per cent in defence spending between the two years. Greece, recording a growth of 13.3 per cent, was among the noteworthy contributors, alongside Sweden (+30.1 per cent), Luxembourg (+27.9 per cent), Lithuania (+27.6 per cent), Spain (+19.3 per cent), and Belgium (+14.8 per cent).

The report highlighted that EU member states collectively invested €58 billion in cutting-edge defence systems, signifying a 5.9 per cent rise from the previous year. Greece emerged as one of the top five countries in terms of investment in new defence technologies and advanced equipment, dedicating a significant 42.6 per cent of its defence budget to this sector. Other leading member states in this regard were Luxembourg (53.5 per cent), Hungary (48.1 per cent), Finland (37.4 per cent), and Lithuania (34.8 per cent).

Despite achieving a record-breaking figure in EU history, member states collectively fall short of the NATO-agreed common target, investing less than 2% of their GDP in defence spending. This ongoing shortfall has been a source of contention, particularly from the US, where concerns have been raised about European reliance on the US defence umbrella without proportionate investment in European defence capabilities. The EU's commitment to prioritizing its defence sector gains significance in the backdrop of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the potential political landscape shift with the upcoming US elections.

While acknowledging the commitment demonstrated by EU member states in 2022, Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, emphasized that the EU still trails other major powers in defence investment. He called for enhanced cooperation among member states to bolster European defence capabilities. Notably, Greece stands out as one of the few EU nations exceeding the 2 per cent GDP benchmark, garnering praise from both Washington and Brussels. The current focus for the Greek government is on the modernization of the Hellenic Armed Forces to fortify both Greek and European borders.

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