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The PM will urge NATO allies to invest more to modernise defence and restore deterrence in Europe, warning that the decade ahead is likely to be more dangerous and

competitive than the last, at the Summit of NATO leaders beginning in Madrid today (Wednesday).

The UK has played a key role in shaping the new NATO Strategic Concept which will be agreed at the Summit. The strategy highlights the evolving and growing threats which the Alliance faces and sets out how NATO can meet them and keep our people safe.

This builds on the work of the UK’s Integrated Review, published last year, which underscored the need to modernise our Armed Forces and develop UK and NATO defence and security capabilities across land, sea, air and cyberspace and invest in new technologies.

On the back of that review the Prime Minister announced the biggest increase to UK defence spending since the Cold War – an investment which has kickstarted a wholesale transformation programme for our military to meet new threats.

Speaking at the Madrid Summit, the PM will argue that NATO allies will need to commit the resources need to deliver on the new Strategic Concept as the security environment is more dangerous since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since 2006 the UK, along with other NATO members, has committed to spend 2% of GDP on defence in order to protect our people and work to ensure peace and prosperity.

The UK has met the 2% NATO target every year since its inception and remains the leading defence spender in Europe. At the Wales NATO summit of 2014, allies agreed to work toward the 2% target by 2024. The PM has welcomed the fact that many allies are now stepping up with increased commitments, including support for Ukraine. But the PM has warned that there is more to be done in the decade ahead as NATO begins work on setting new targets for the future.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe, and permanently reconfigured the geopolitical contours of our continent. Both the UK and NATO must adapt to meet new and increased threats to our shared security. That means ensuring that there is long-term investment but also being ready to surge defence spending to adapt to crises and urgent needs.

In addition to long-term investment, since the start of the war the UK has so far provided £1.3bn in extraordinary military support to Ukraine for its self-defence, and deployed more troops to NATO’s eastern flank and increased our contributions to NATO’s air policing and standing naval groups.

Today at NATO the Prime Minister will announce a number of new UK commitments to strengthen the Alliance, including expanding our national headquarters in Estonia to ensure we could provide rapid reinforcements with our high readiness forces if needed, and further increasing the lethality of our forces already based in Estonia through the deployment of capabilities such as artillery, air defence and helicopters.

The PM will also commit to reinforce NATO’s New Force Model through the UK’s world-leading capabilities in land, air and sea – including almost all our maritime forces, extra Fighter and Bomber Air Squadrons and increasing the number of Land Brigade-sized units. This will help NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe plan for any eventuality, knowing that he has the weight of UK defence capability behind him.

These investments, plus the unprecedented surge of support to Ukraine, are projected to increase the percentage of GDP the UK spends on defence this year to around 2.3% - making the UK again the leading European defence spender this year.

As well as keeping us safe, the UK’s defence budget creates and sustains 390,000 UK jobs, including through nearly £20 billion of investment into UK industries every year. 1 in every 130 UK jobs are created by our defence budget. Most of these are high-paying, skilled jobs with an average salary of £45,000.

This includes:

  • 29,800 jobs across the UK, including 13,500 in the Northwest of England, created by the Dreadnought submarine programme
  • 24,000 jobs supported by our shipbuilding industry
  • 300 jobs in Rosyth and elsewhere created by a £30m contract to maintain our two aircraft carriers
  • More than 100 jobs created in Stevenage, Cowes, Bristol and Bolton by a £300m project to make the UK the first European nation to operate a Maritime Ballistic Missile Defence detect and destroy capability

Our proud record on defence has also built a thriving UK defence export industry, which exports an average of £3.75bn worth of equipment around the world – helping to keep our allies safe.

Addressing NATO today, the Prime Minister is expected to say:

The NATO Alliance keeps our people safe every day. But over the next ten years the threats around us are only going to grow. We need allies – all allies – to dig deep to restore deterrence and ensure defence in the decade ahead. The 2% was always meant to be a floor, not a ceiling and allies must continue to step up in this time of crisis.

I remain incredibly proud of the immense contribution Defence makes to the UK and the world. Defence of the realm is the first order of any Government. But more than that, defence lies at the beating heart of the United Kingdom.

Almost every family knows someone who has served our country or worked in our thriving defence industry. Moments of national joy are observed from the skies by our incredible Red Arrows, moments of national mourning are flanked by our men and women in uniform.

And as we think about crafting a future in which the people of the UK are safe and prosperous, we must again turn to defence. To neglect the needs of our Armed Forces is to neglect our country.

To fully address the threats of the future the UK is investing in long-term strategic projects like AUKUS and Future Combat Air System. These involve cutting-edge technologies which the UK defence industry will be tasked with developing for years to come – bolstering alliances and creating and sustaining jobs across the UK.

In 2014, at NATO’s Wales Summit, allies committed to the Wales Defence Investment Pledge to invest 2% of GDP in defence by 2024. Between 2014 and 2022 European allies and Canada are expected to spend a total of $350 billion extra in real terms on defence. The UK has led the way, from securing the Wales Pledge to investing $34,741 million more in defence since 2014.

But, as the Government recognised in the Integrated Review, the costs of staying safe and secure are rising. At the NATO Summit today, the Prime Minister will urge allies to start discussions on a new target for defence investment from 2024.

In recent weeks a number of NATO members have agreed to increase their defence spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They include Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Romania and Poland.  Poland will spend 3% of its GDP on defence from next year. Photo by DrRandomFactor, Wikimedia commons.