A coalition of parties in the Danish parliament have agreed to tack on 1.5 billion kroner (U.S. $229.7 million) to the agreed-upon defense budget for 2023, which would put defense spending at 1.5 percent of gross domestic product for that year.
“It is on a good and well thought through basis that the parties to the defense agreement have now decided to further strengthen Danish defense, so that we will spend 1.5% of GDP in 2023,” Danish Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said in a statement. “Danish status and reputation in NATO is of common concern and I would like to thank all parties for shouldering the responsibility.”
The amendment comes less than one year after a coalition of parties agreed to a five-year defense spending agreement that planned for a 20 percent growth in military spending, from $3.8 billion in 2018 to $4.6 billion in 2023. It also comes just months before elections are set for Denmark, essentially removing the question of increased defense spending from the campaign.
Just where that money will go is undecided at the moment. Denmark was already focused on standing up a light infantry battalion for national and international use; increasing anti-aircraft capabilities; buying the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and the creation of a special cyberwarfare unit. It is possible those capabilities could receive a funding boost.
One thing is clear: The move is directly the result of a desire to support NATO amid calls from the Trump administration over fairer burden-sharing.
In a statement, the political coalition notes “the Alliance has in the recent year taken important steps to further strengthen NATO’s readiness and deterrence posture. The situation increases requirements to the Alliance and has reinforced the debate on fair burden sharing and Allies ability and will to defend themselves and each other. In light of this development Allies have taken new decisions to allocate additional resources to the armed forces towards 2024.”
In addition to the spending increase, Denmark is changing how it reports its spending to NATO in order to “make sure the Danish defence efforts are duly reflected in the reporting to NATO.” Those changes will up Denmark’s reported NATO support to 3 billion kroner annually from 2023 onward.
Whether the increase will be enough to placate U.S. President Donald Trump remains to be seen. Trump has consistently called for European allies to spend more on defense, with a focus on hitting the target of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense, set at the 2014 Wales Summit.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.