Defence spending climbs to 1.63% of GDP in 2020

  • Lusa
  • 21 October 2020

The amount allocated to the defence sector by Portugal is expected to be 1.63% of GDP in 2020.

In 2020, Portugal will devote 1.63% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defence, close to the target set by the government for 2024 and more than last year’s 1.4%, but still below the 2% requested by NATO.

At a press conference prior to the videoconference of defence ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on Thursday and Friday, the organisation’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, released figures on the member countries’ contribution to this area, speaking of an increase in funding despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the still provisional figures.

“Today we are releasing member countries’ defence spending estimates for 2020 and for the sixth year in a row there will be an increase in contributions, a real increase of 4.3%,” Jens Stoltenberg told journalists.

Although he acknowledged the pressure on countries’ public accounts due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said he hoped that “this trend will continue and that allies will continue to invest more” in this sector, stressing that the health crisis “has not made the challenges go away.

In Portugal’s case, the amount allocated to this sector is expected to be 1.63% of GDP in 2020, according to preliminary data.

This contribution has been increasing since 2017, from 1.24% in that year to 1.35% in 2018 and 1.39% in 2019.

The goal set by the Portuguese government was to reach 1.41% of national wealth last year.

By 2024, António Costa’s executive aims to reach 1.66% of GDP in defence spending, a target that will still fall short of the 2% target agreed between NATO member countries at the Wales summit in 2014.

The government also hopes to reach 1.98% of GDP if the country manages to obtain EU funds under the next Multiannual Financial Framework of the European Union for the period 2021-2027, namely through Horizon Europe and the European Defence Fund.

With the percentage reached this year, Portugal remains the 16th NATO member (out of a total of 29) to invest most in Defence, immediately ahead of Germany (1.57%), and notably ahead of Spain (1.16%), Belgium (1.10%) and Luxembourg (0.64%), the allies at the ‘tail’ of the list.

Among the NATO member countries which invest most in defence are the United States, which tops the list with 3.87%, followed by Greece (2.58%) and the United Kingdom (2.43%).

Figures from the transatlantic organisation also indicate that, in absolute terms, Portugal is expected to spend €3.191 billion on this sector in 2020, after spending €2.946 billion last year and allocating €2.750 billion in 2018 (this in current prices).

At the press conference ahead of the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in the coming days, Jens Stoltenberg noted that one of the issues on the table will be threats related to fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology and cybersecurity, specifying that “more needs to be done” to protect such infrastructure.

“We cannot have strong military capabilities without strong societies,” he said.