October 3, 2019 / 2:56 PM / 14 days ago

Europe needs to increase military spending, says Dutch PM

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Europe needs to increase military spending to keep the transatlantic NATO alliance alive in the face of rising threats from Russia, China and elsewhere, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday.

Europe has no alternative to its alliance with the United States, Rutte said in a speech. “We can’t guarantee our own security. But Europe can and should do more.”

To protect NATO, Europe needs to heed the call of U.S. President Donald Trump and increase military spending, the Dutch prime minister said.

“We might not like it, but the days in which Europe could for a minimal fee find shelter under the American safety umbrella are over.”

NATO members in 2014 agreed they would increase military spending to 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) by 2024.

Dutch military spending has been increased by 25% since 2014, but still only reached 1.2% of GDP last year.

Rutte’s government plans to further increase spending on defence in the coming years. “But we have to be honest, that won’t get us at 2% by 2024,” Rutte said.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Giles Elgood

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