Between NATO and a hard place: defence spending debate in Germany and Czechia

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Series Details Volume 28, Number 2, Pages 193-211
Publication Date May 2019
ISSN 0966-2839 (print) | 1746-1545 (online)
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Defence spending has become a primary issue in the context of NATO. The question of fair burden-sharing and development of new capabilities in reaction to the changing security environment led NATO members to aim to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2024. While some allies have managed to reach the level quickly, others seem not to be able or willing to do so. We know little, however, how the international commitment is reflected and referred to in individual member states.

This article shows how size played a role when the 2% pledge was discussed in domestic politics, even if the resulting policy may be very similar. Based on expert and political debates in Germany and Czechia, it demonstrates that external expectations and the question of status play a crucial part in the small state’s reasoning whereas it is mainly internal drivers that shape the big state’s decisions.

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