The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, has pushed through an immediate billion Euro increase in defence spending in the wake of the NATO Summit in Madrid.
As host of last week’s summit of the alliance’s leaders, Spain, like other members, also committed to increasing its defence budget to two percent of GDP – a figure already reached by some countries and which Sanchez committed to reaching by 2029.
The immediate cash injection was agreed by the Spanish Cabinet this week to “deal with all the extraordinary expenses” linked to the war in Ukraine.
According to NATO’s latest annual report, Spain invested just 1.03 percent of its GDP on defence spending in 2021, one of the lowest figures of the soon to be 32 nation alliance.
La guerra de Putin nos ha demostrado que nuestra seguridad no está garantizada, debemos protegerla y dedicar recursos a ello. España va a cumplir el compromiso con @NATO de dedicar el 2% del PIB al gasto en defensa. Este debe ser un acuerdo de país.#MadridOTAN22 #NatoSummit pic.twitter.com/EKMMTPzgNe
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) June 30, 2022
However, the increase has come at a political cost as the coalition government´s junior left-wing partners are highly critical of any increase and have opposed arms shipments to Ukraine.
Podemos Cabinet Minister, Yolanda Diaz, called for an “urgent” meeting of the coalition’s monitoring committee which is tasked with ensuring that the commitments made when the coalition deal was inked in January 2020 were being respected.
“Spending on weapons at the demand of a foreign power rather than investing it in better healthcare, education and social protection is not a budget that our country needs,” said Podemos’ leader and Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra.
However Pedro Sanchez said that the additional defence capacity was needed saying that: “I am going to convey to the Spanish people that we must make this effort because the cost of sitting back and doing nothing while the most basic and fundamental aspects of our society – such as freedom and democracy – are being jeopardised is much higher,”
Spain´s defence budget has been steadily falling over the last four decades – from a peak of just under 3% in the early 1980s to hovering around the 1% mark over the last 10 years.