The Spanish Defense budget is projected to rise by 10.5% in 2018 compared to the previous year. This increase would confirm what has already been announced by the Minister of Defense, María Dolores de Cospedal, in her effort to reach 2% of GDP in military spending by the year 2024.
The goal of attaining the benchmark of 2% of GDP for military spending is not determined by any empirical analysis. If anything, it is the pipedream of top military officials in the Pentagon as well as the managers and shareholders of military industry interests that put huge amounts of pressure on the government of the United States so that its president, whether Republican or Democrat, passes that pressure along to the rest of the allied countries to increase their own military spending. The current president, Donald Trump, went so far as to threaten its allies to abandon the defense of Europe and NATO, should the European allied countries not increase their military spending and contribute to the maintenance of NATO. An insistence on increasing European military spending is surely driven by US interests and the favorable treatment of its own military industry, along with its industry’s sales to Europe and the rest of the world. In fact, the US is overwhelmingly the top manufacturer and exporter of weapons on the planet, producing 58% of all weapons in the world and exporting 34% of the world total (SIPRI 2017). Any increase in high and disproportionate military spending benefits the US industry.
Once again, as has happened since the alleged end of the recent financial crisis, the Spanish State Budget for 2018 shows an increase in defense spending, which Centre Delàs analyzes each year. The first thing to highlight is the increase of 10.5% for military spending compared to 2017. This increase would confirm what was already announced by the past Minister of Defense, María Dolores de Cospedal of the Popular Party government, in order to meet the promise made by past president Mariano Rajoy in the September 2014 NATO meeting in Wales.
In the analysis of the Spanish military expenditure completed by the Centre Delàs (see the complete working paper), the accounting guidelines of NATO are employed, which have also been adopted by SIPRI. However, expenditures covering the National Intelligence Center (CNI) have been added to it, because it is a facility run by the military where a majority of the staff are in fact military personnel. Additionally, Centre Delàs accounts for the proportional, defense-related interest of the debt that arises from Ministry’s financing activities that represent an important part of its budget; the Treasury issues public debt for these activities and the interest generated by this military-related debt must be considered a military expenditure. Thus, the final military expenditure of the Spanish State presented for approval to the Congress of Deputies in 2018 totals 19,926 million euros. This is more than double the amount that the Ministry is declaring to propose together with its Autonomous Bodies, which is 9,636 million euros.
The total public expenditure of the Spanish State increases by 1.3% with respect to 2017, while the expenditures of the Ministry of Defense are increased by 10.5%. And what about the increases for ‘social’ ministries with respect to the previous year? Healthcare 3.9%, Education 3%, and Culture 4.6%. Furthermore, how much is spent to combat the biggest problem in Spanish society, the incredible blight of unemployment and job insecurity? The Ministry of Labor Development will receive a meager increase of 3.9%, keeping in mind that since 2008 the funds allocated for this ministry have decreased by 28%. And lastly, funding for infrastructure, the element most-linked to job creation, is set to rise 5.3% while it has been reduced with 63% since 2008. Therefore, we can conclude that the Ministry of Defense is, without any doubt, the ministry that receives the highest help in the 2018 Spanish Budget.