From the Editor's Desk

Dear Reader of Atlantica,

Two percent has become one of the most controversial issues within the Alliance since US President Donald Trump’s election in 2016. While the majority of NATO member states have developed clear spending targets for 2024 since the Wales Summit in 2014, there are still many member states that fall short of the spending target and lack clear plans to reach it, leaving member states open to criticism that they are free riding within the system.

Overall, the latest statistics on Allied spending in 2019 show a positive trend in member states’ commitment to increasing their defence budgets. This year, nine countries have reached the 2% mark, with Bulgaria now over the threshold. While this is certainly one important measure of Allies’ commitment to defence, let us not forget that this is just one of many markers of member states’ commitment to the Alliance as a whole.

Seeing that the two percent issue will be on the table for the London Summit this week as well as a potential bone of contention among Allies for years to come, our fourth issue of Atlantica examines this issue from several perspectives. First, Jan Rempala and Tristan Roeven revisit the Olson-Zeckhauser (OZ) model of burden sharing, originally commissioned by the US Department of Defense in the 1960s, to assess member states’ free riding within NATO in 2017. Through both re-running the quantitative OZ model for European member states and using qualitative reasoning to examine the cases of Poland and the Netherlands, they conclude that whether or not Allies meet the 2% threshold does not fully represent a member state’s commitment to NATO. Second, Xhoana Dishnica details Allies’ current defence spending and national plans to contribute 2% by 2024. She argues that while member states’ plans greatly vary, the trend in Allies’ increasing national defence spending is positive. Finally, Juris Jurans makes the case for Germany’s comparably low share in defence spending in view of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s commitment to Germany’s role as a civilian power within the Alliance. Despite Merkel’s recent statement that Germany will aim to spend no more than 1.5% of its GDP on defence by 2024, he argues that Germany is nonetheless committed to the Alliance and its role as a mediator and peacekeeper within it.

As the London Summit is finally here, Allies’ financial commitments to defence spending are once again in the spotlight. Surely, as long as Trump is the president of the United States, and thus the leading contributor to NATO’s purse, the issue of 2% will not be resolved until every country meets this threshold.

Megan Gisclon

Editor, Atlantica


Atlantica Volume I, Issue 4


Rempala, J and Roeven, T., Free Riding in NATO: Revisiting the Olson-Zeckhauser Model of Alliance Burden Sharing in 2017, Atlantica Vol 1, Issue 4, December 2019

Dishnica, X., National Plans for Defence Spending, Atlantica Vol 1, Issue 4, December 2019

Jurans, J., Merkel on NATO: Reconciling Germany Contributions toward Two Percent and its Role as a Mediator, Atlantica Vol 1, Issue 4, December 2019