HELSINKI — The Nordic countries have further deepened cross-border collaboration with the launch of the Nordic Defence Materiel Agreement. The NDMA aims to strengthen collective security in the region and bolster the joint role played by Nordic states in the international defense and security arena.
The agreement comes at a times when Nordic governments are implementing increased spending plans for their militaries. Sweden and Norway are moving ahead to affect annual increases to their budgets, with net additional monies being largely directed at bolstering materiel acquisition spending power.
Iceland, which does not have a defense force, is the only Nordic state not included in the NDMA. It is envisioned that the arrangement will pave the way for an agreed pan-Nordic initiative to create a political and legal framework for expanding and deepening defense materiel procurement cooperation.
The NDMA is being implemented within the framework of the European Union Defence and Security Procurement Directive and in conjunction with the EU Intra-Community Transfer Directive for defense-related products.
Responsibility for implementing the NDMA falls to Nordic Defence Cooperation, the interstate organization tasked with developing stronger, cross-border collaboration between the five Nordic countries.
The NDMA covers joint weapons systems development and common equipment procurement programs.
Nordic governments and militaries view the NDMA as a potential cost-savings tool, particularly where it relates to overlaps in equipment and weapons systems, and where significant savings can be made through collective rather than single-nation procurement deals.
A significant percentage of Sweden's projected enhanced spending on defense will target capacity building on Gotland, the country's strategic island outpost in the Baltic Sea.
"We are determined to defend Swedish territory, defend Gotland, and exhibit our capability to do so," Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said.
"For Sweden, it's important we show our resolve and determination to potential aggressors, and make it clear that any attack on any part of our territory will prove very costly for them," Löfven said.
The Swedish government announced an additional $106 million in 2017 spending for defense and national security services in its spring budget. Sweden's defense and homeland security budgets are estimated to run over $6 billion in 2017. The additional capital outlay is expected to add a further $1.2 billion to the core defense budget in 2017-2020.
The military budget expansion segment of Norway's Long Term Defence Plan will give the country's Armed Forces a year-on-year increase of $163 million in 2017. The funding increase forms part of a process to add $14.2 billion to the Armed Forces' budget over the next 20 years.
Funding major procurement programs, such as the acquisition of new submarines and the purchase of 52 F-35 combat aircraft, will become a key focus for future Norwegian defense budgets.