Global military spending increases, trend predicted to continue

Military spending accounted for nearly double the money spent on development aid last year. [Airwolfhound/Flickr]

Military spending has risen for the first time since 2011, with a total of €1.5 trillion spent on arms and other weapons of war, according to a study produced by the SIPRI institute in Sweden. EURACTIV Germany reports.

After four years of falling numbers, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that global spending on military budgets increased last year. The institute’s researchers discovered notable increases in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, in particular.

The United States and China remain the undisputed kings of the SIRI’s index, with spends of €523 billion and €189 billion, respectively. Russia lost its third place to Saudi Arabia, whose spending increased 6% to €76.5 billion, putting the Sunni kingdom in the top three for the first time.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of banning the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, after the kingdom’s bombing campaign against Yemen was heavily criticised by the international community. Although it is not a binding measure, it does increase pressure on the member states to scale back or cease trading weapons with Riyadh.

MEPs call for European arms embargo

Following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, two French MEPs have called for tighter restrictions on weapons in the EU. EURACTIV France reports.

States around the world spent around €1.5 trillion on weapons, military equipment, personnel and research in 2015, according to the institute’s findings. While spending in Western Europe and North America fell slightly, it increased in areas affected by conflict. Falling oil prices and economic crises played their part in restricting revenue flows towards defence budgets.

On the one hand, current “spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world”, said Sam Perlo-Freedom, leader of the SIPRI study. On the other, it demonstrates a “clear break” from the “oil-fuelled surge in military spending of the past decade”.

Germany switched places with Japan and now lies ninth on the list. The Swedish think tank forecasted that Europe’s top three spenders, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, will increase their spending in the coming years. The institute highlighted that its annual report only represents preliminary findings.

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The threat of a ban on fish imports hangs over Thailand if it does not do more to combat human trafficking, slave labour and illegal fishing. Europe must use its lucrative markets as leverage, urged Barbara Lochbihler in an interview with EURACTIV Germany. 

The SIPRI also referred to the Global Campaign on Military Expenditure, which advocates a reduction in global military spending by 10% and for the saved money to be donated to development cooperation funds. The €1.5 trillion spent last year is more than double the resources allocated during the same period to development aid.

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