EU Military Spending Hits Record High of €240 Billion Following Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

By Jace Dela Cruz

Dec 01, 2023 02:47 AM EST

Military spending within the European Union (EU) reached a historic high of €240 billion ($261.8 billion) in 2022, marking a 6% increase from the previous year, the European Defense Agency (EDA) reported Thursday.

This surge represents the eighth consecutive year of growth in the EU's military expenditure, with member states justifying the substantial uptick due to concerns related to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

(Photo : ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the European Union's military force (EUFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina stand at attention before an inspection during a riot simulation exercise at the camp "Butmir" near Sarajevo, on October 24, 2022.

European Union Member States Increase Defense Expenditure Amid Russia-Ukraine War

According to a press release from EDA, the annual Defense Data report for 2022, detailing defense spending from all EU member states, has been published for the first time.

The report highlights that 20 of the 27 EU member states increased their defense expenditure, with six witnessing an increase of over 10%.

Key findings from the 2022 European Defense Spending include notable increases in overall expenditure by specific countries: Sweden (+30.1%), Luxembourg (+27.9%), Lithuania (+27.6%), Spain (+19.3%), Belgium (+14.8%), and Greece (+13.3%).

A record €58 billion ($63.2 billion) was allocated for defense investments, predominantly directed toward procuring new equipment, showcasing a 7% increase from the previous year. 

The report also emphasizes a significant increase in the value of projects managed by EDA, with 18 projects initiated in 2022, amounting to more than €76 million ($82.9 million). In total, EDA has managed 46 projects on behalf of member states, with a combined value of €250 million ($272.7 million).

According to Euronews, the EDA is an agency responsible for improving defensive capabilities in the bloc. 

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EU Member States Decrease Spending in Defense R&T

While the overall defense expenditure reached a record level, the report shows a decrease in spending dedicated to defense research and technology (R&T), amounting to €200 million ($218.1 million) compared to the previous year at €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion).

Only two member states meet the agreed-upon 2% benchmark for defense expenditure allocated to R&T activities, collectively accounting for over 80% of all defense R&T expenditure. 

"Our armed forces must be ready for a much more demanding era. Adjusting to these new realities first and foremost means investing more on defence. A record €240 billion underpins the commitment of Member States to bolster European defence," Josep Borrell, Vice-President and Head of the European Defence Agency, said in a statement.

"However, we have key capability gaps and continue to lag behind other global players in spending. This is why it's not just about spending more in defence, but also about spending better and together," he added.

Despite the increased spending, Euronews reported that Europe's defense industry cannot meet Ukraine's demand as it fights the Russian invasion.

The commitment of the European Union to supply one million shells to Kyiv by March now seems unattainable. Meanwhile, Russia reportedly aims to increase its military spending by 67% in 2024.

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