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Sweden’s defense budget risks not meeting NATO target

Sweden’s defense budget risks not meeting NATO target
'Government must make decision on needed funding within few months or country will miss NATO target of 2% of GDP in 2026'

By Alexandra Enberg

IZMIR, Türkiye (AA) - Sweden's defense budget is at risk of not reaching its NATO target due to a shortfall as the defense budget needs an additional 177 billion Swedish krona ($16.9 billion) over the next few years.

If the Swedish government does not make a decision on the needed funding within a few months, the country will miss the NATO target of 2% of GDP in 2026, according to the Swedish Armed Forces.

All parliamentary parties agreed last year that Sweden should spend 2% of its GDP on defense, the level that NATO countries are aiming for.

For Sweden, it marks an increase, as for the past few years, only around 1% of GDP went to defense.

The four parties that signed the Tido Agreement -- a political agreement of Riksdag parties from the right-wing bloc -- the Moderate Party, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Sweden Democrats -- in particular have emphasized that growth must be fast.

The four parties promised before the last election that Sweden would reach the goal as early as 2025.

The money that the Armed Forces received in this year's budget is less than what is required and is not enough to speed up growth, the Armed Forces said in its budget basis for 2024.

"For the Armed Forces, this means that it is not possible to initiate the investments that enable the necessary capacity increase within the framework of two percent of GDP," said the armed forces.

Therefore, the Swedish government must push for more money already this year, said the Swedish Armed Forces.

"Last autumn, we had a number of proposals about early steps that we need to take. The entire amount that we requested for 2023 was then not included," Mikael Granholm, director general of the Swedish Armed Forces, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

"Things that we had set aside and need to start with this year will generate expenses of approximately 20 billion Swedish krona ($1.9 billion) until 2030. For 2023, it is about 2 billion krona ($190.6 million)," he added.

If more money is not assigned in the spring amendment budget, it will not be possible to reach defense spending of 2% of GDP by 2026, the goal the Swedish Armed Forces received from the government.

"A shift in these decisions risks a significant delay in capability growth, a larger capability gap and a postponement of the Swedish Armed Forces' operational capability," said the Swedish Armed Forces.

"If the Armed Forces are not given the planning conditions to begin the necessary measures, it will inevitably lead to delayed growth."

In the coming years, the gap to 2% of GDP is estimated to be even larger.

In the next seven years, the Armed Forces must receive around 177 billion krona ($16.8 billion) in extra grants, according to the forces' calculations.

The cost of replacing equipment donated to Ukraine is not included in that amount, which is several billion Swedish krona.

"That's how we see it. When we receive funds to procure compensation, it is not money that increases our ability. It is the escalation to 2% of GDP," said Granholm.

source: News Feed
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