European deFence SPENdING Surpasses €200 billion for first time, DRIVEN BY record defence investments IN 2021

Brussels, 8 December 2022.The European Defence Agency (EDA) has today published its annual Defence Data report for 2020-2021, detailing defence spending by the 26 EDA Member States[1]. In 2021, total European defence spending stood at a new high of €214 billion, marking a further 6% increase on 2020 and the seventh year of consecutive growth. EDA’s report finds that Member States are investing more than ever on the procurement of defence equipment and research and development with a 16% rise compared to 2020, totalling a record €52 billion.


At €214 billion, total defence expenditure corresponds to 1.5% of the 26 EDA Member States’ gross domestic product (GDP), the same as recorded in 2020. The 6% rise in spending compared to 2020, marks the strongest yearly growth rate since the rebound started in 2015 following the financial crisis. Compared to the historic low reached in 2014, defence expenditure has increased by almost €52 billion, or 32% in real terms.

EDA’s Defence Data report finds that the sustained increase in overall spending is also reflected in national numbers. In 2021, of the 18 Member States who increased spending, six raised it by 10% or more. The highest increases amounted to more than €4 billion by Italy in absolute terms and a 42%, 33% and 27%, increase in relative terms by Finland, Greece and Slovenia respectively. However, eight Member States reduced spending, with the largest national cut standing at 15% in relative terms.

EDA’s Defence Data report concludes that defence expenditure has globally resisted the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Member States’ announcements following Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine signals that the increases in expenditure are likely to continue in the years ahead.

HR/VP and Head of the European Defence Agency Josep Borrell said: “European defence cooperation has come a long way. However, too little is spent in cooperation. As Member States increase their defence expenditure in defence, cooperation must now become the norm. We have built the cooperation frameworks to make this happen. Spending alone is not enough, we need to do it better, and that means doing it together. This is the only way to effectively equip European armed forces for the challenges ahead.”


The significant increase in defence spending has also translated into an appreciable rise in collaborative European spending, but still well below agreed collective benchmarks. In 2021, Member States allocated a record €7.9 billion to European collaborative defence equipment procurement projects, almost double the €4.1 billion recorded in 2020.

Spending on European collaborative defence equipment procurement in 2021 accounted for 18% of total defence equipment procurement, an increase on the 11% in 2020. A contributing factor is also the higher number of Member States who provided data in 2021 compared to 2020[2]. The 35% European collaborative defence equipment procurement benchmark, which is also a commitment under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), remains out of reach and will require almost doubling current investment in this area to reach the benchmark, which translates to €15.1 billion.


EDA’s report, based on data voluntarily provided by 26 Ministries of Defence, also finds that total defence expenditure represented 2.9% of total government expenditure. Additional findings include: Of the €52 billion spent on defence investments, 82% or €43 billion were used for equipment procurement and 18% or €9 billion for research and development. This is a similar percentage split as recorded over the past three years.