Italy moves away from NATO's 2% defense spending target.

Italy’s military budget will be cut again this year, moving the country further away from NATO’s target of spending at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense by 2028, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said on Wednesday.

Defense spending has fallen steadily from 1.59% of GDP in 2020 to 1.46% in 2023, and “will probably fall” again this year, Crosetto said in a question session in the Lower House of the Parliament.

“It is not news that makes me happy,” he added.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO’s European members are under pressure to boost their defense capabilities and have come under renewed criticism from US presidential candidate Donald Trump for not contributing enough to the military alliance.

At a 2014 summit, NATO leaders agreed to move towards defense spending of at least 2% of GDP within a decade, but Italy’s previous government, led by Mario Draghi, postponed goal four. 

In November, Crosetto told parliament that even meeting the less ambitious 2028 target was “difficult.” Italy faces severe budget constraints as it is the second most indebted country in the eurozone after Greece.

On Wednesday, Crosetto reiterated his commitment to continue supporting Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression after Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni signed a ten-year defense pact in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last week. .

Reuters