2019.07.04 10:30

PM Skvernelis vows more funds to bring defence spending to 2 percent GDP

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday his government would allocate additional funds to bring defence spending to 2 percent GDP this year.

"If we need to [allocate additional funds], we will do it this year as well," he told journalists.

His comments come after Lithuania risks failing to meet the 2 percent GDP defence spending commitment for a second year in a row, despite pledging to do so back in 2018.

Lithuania's existing defence budget stands at 948 million euros. The amount was allocated after it was estimated that defence spending would stand at 2.01 percent GDP. But due to better economic forecasts, NATO announced earlier this week that Lithuania is allocating 1.98 percent GDP for defence.

A similar situation unfolded last year as well, and the Lithuanian government had to additionally allocate over 21.5 million euros for defence at the end of that year, but still failed to reach the 2 percent threshold.

"We probably need to plan better next year, hoping, and I do hope, that we will continue growing," Skvernelis said.

In his words, the next year's defence budget will exceed 2 percent GDP, based on the current forecasts.

Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis has recently called on the country's government to step up defence spending for the country to avoid balancing near the 2 percent GDP every year.

Read more: Lithuanian MoD calls for increased defence spending, faster modernization of the military

The prime minister, however, hit back that such balancing was not unique. "There are many areas where we need to balance our position," the prime minister said.

Parliamentary parties in Lithuania, excluding the social democrats, have an agreement in place to bring defence funding to 2.5 percent GDP by 2030.