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Romanian defence spending far below Iohannis’ 2022 pledge

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Romania’s defence spending in 2023 reached 1.6% of the country’s GDP, far below the 2.5% pledge made by President Iohannis at the NATO summit in Madrid in 2022, an official NATO report has found, TVR reported.

At the NATO summit in Madrid in 2022, President Klaus Iohannis promised that maintaining the 2.5% defence budget would be a firm commitment for at least the next decade.

However, a NATO report that was published in March and reported on by national television TVR, found that Romania only spent 1.6% of the country’s GDP on defence last year.

The report also found that Romania did not meet NATO’s required 2% spending commitment, as set out in legislation in force from 2017, until 2021, when it spent 2.01% of the country’s GDP, after which there has been a steady decline in spending, with the 2023 figure the lowest since 2017.

At the same time, Romania slightly exceeded the spending threshold for so-called endowment programmes, devoting just over 21% of the budget to them, which still pales in comparison to other Eastern European countries such as Poland, which allocated over 53% to such programmes.

However, staff costs for the Romanian army accounted for almost 60% of the budget.

Asked to comment on a reported 1.7% budget deficit for the first two months of this year, Romania’s Defence Ministry declined to do so, while Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu attributed the budget deficit mainly to defence payments and stressed the government’s commitment to meeting its obligations in this area.

“In January and February 2024 we had a budget deficit of 1.7%… The vast majority of this deficit was with defence payments. In other words, we assumed to fulfil all our obligations”, Ciolacu said on Friday.

(Sebastian Rotaru |

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