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Defense budgets are decreasing in Europe, the Franco-British weight is increasing...

Destruction of weapons by the European mission EUFOR Althea in Krajlovac (credit: EUFOR Althea)

(BRUSSELS2) The latest delivery of SIPRI figures is worth paying attention to because it shows that the economic crisis affected defense budgets in very different ways around the world in 2010. Based on the figures provided by Sipri, 'B2' focused particularly on European budgets (geographic Europe and the EU), by turning, not the tables... but the spreadsheets. Summary of the result below.

Globally differentiated progression

At the global level, this is the lowest increase in military spending in ten years (1,3% in real terms). But with differences: Asia (–1.4%, $314m) and especially Europe (-2,8%, $382m) are particularly affected. While spending continues to grow in the Middle East (+2,5%, $104m), Africa (+5,2%, $30,1m) and, more surprisingly, Latin America (+5,8 .63,3%, $XNUMX million).

The United States is consolidating its lead. While spending in the USA progressed less in 2010 (+2,8% against 7,4% on average over the last ten years), in mass, it weighs even more. The increase in global spending is, in fact, mainly due to the increase in the US budget ($19,6 billion out of $20,6 billion).

Falling budgets in Europe, but not everywhere…

Defense budgets were drastically reduced last year in Europe, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, where the reduction sometimes reached a quarter. Four countries are mainly concerned: Bulgaria (-27%), Latvia (-26%), Estonia (-23%), Albania (-20%). Four countries reduced their spending by more than 10%: Slovakia (-17%), Lithuania (-15%), Greece (-11%), Hungary (-10%).

Conversely, the countries on the eastern border of the EU are increasing their budget: + 12% (+21% in local currency) for Armenia, + 7% (+15%) for Belarus, +3% ( +13%) for Ukraine. But it's not just them! We can also note, within the European Union, the net increases of four countries: Denmark and Poland (+ 6%), Portugal and Cyprus (+ 8%).

NB: this is the evolution of the 2010/2009 budgets in national currency over the calendar year

In terms of figures, we can notice that three countries in geographical Europe are in the lead: the United Kingdom (59,6 M. $), France (59,3 Billion $) … and Russia (58,7. $XNUMX billion). Russia is steadily increasing its military budget and should therefore overtake, in absolute terms, France and the United Kingdom within a few years.

Evolution in ten years, The Franco-British weight is growing

If we study the evolution of military budgets over the past 10 years, taking the year 2000 as a starting point, we note some changes from 2000 to 2010: the slow but constant decrease in the German and Turkish budgets as well, and the increase notable in the British budget, and less in the Spanish budget (Iraq and Afghanistan effect).

This produces strategic developments: the United Kingdom rises to first or second place (depending on whether we take the 2009 base or the 2010 base) of the European ranking while Germany drops to fourth place (behind Russia) . The budgets of most Central and Eastern European countries are on the decline, with one notable exception: the Polish budget which is growing steadily.

If in geographical Europe, the weight of the Franco-British couple remains stable at 31%, At EU level, this weight is increasing imperceptibly: increasing by 3 points in ten years (from 38% to 41%). On the other hand, at the world level, the Franco-British weight is down by

Europe in the world: a share that is declining in ten years

It is common to say that Europe is becoming a military dwarf on a global level. Year after year, this trend is getting stronger. China now represents the combined budget of France and the United Kingdom; ten years ago he weighed only the weight of one of them. The weight of the Franco-British couple weighs no more than 7,6% of the world expenditure in 2010 whereas it weighed 10,3% in 2000 to be compared to the weight of the United States which makes an opposite evolution: from 37% in 2000 to 44,1% in 2010 of global spending.

Another phenomenon is the Russian catch-up. In ten years, the progression is more than 80%, progression similar to that of the United States (but not starting from the same starting point). The military expenditure of Saudi Arabia and India (which exceeds almost 10 times more than its neighbor Pakistan) increased over the same period by around 60%.

In the Middle East, we can observe two important developments: Saudi Arabia, which spent double the Israeli budget in 2000, represents almost 4 times, today, the budget of the Hebrew State (Nb: a development to be weighed, undoubtedly, by the special relations with the USA and the autonomy of Israeli research which makes it possible to have weapons at cost price where other countries buy at market price). Another significant progression is that of the United Arab Emirates.

Tables to download: Top 20 worldwide, budgets of the countries of geographical Europe (gross budget 2010 and evolution 2009/2010)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).