Macron Gives In To Pressure From Trump On Defense Spending


France will increase its defense budget by nearly $2 billion next year, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday.

The increase of 1.6 billion euros ($1.93 billion) will continue over the next few years and President Emmanuel Macron has set a goal to meet NATO’s target to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2025.

“This will be continued in 2019 and 2020 because the world we are living in is dangerous,” Philippe told broadcaster BFM.

The increase comes less than two months after Pierre de Villiers, the head of France’s armed forces, resigned in protest of an 850 million euro ($969 million) budget cut. De Villiers and Macron had an open dispute for weeks, which culminated in de Villiers’ resignation in July.

“I won’t let myself be f***ed like that,” de Villiers reportedly said during a closed parliamentary hearing, according to Reuters. “I may be stupid, but I know when I am being had.”

The president used an address to the military a week before the resignation to let the armed forces know he would no longer tolerate public criticism.

“For me it’s undignified to wash dirty linen in public,” Macron told the army. “I have made commitments, I am your boss.”

Several countries have stepped up their defense spending since U.S. President Donald Trump took office and started pressuring allies. NATO estimates Canada and European members will increase defense spending by 4.3 percent in 2017.

The alliance has seen a cumulative increase of $46 billion since 2014, when the 2 percent of GDP target was agreed upon.

Out of the alliance’s 28 members, just five meet the spending goal. The United Kingdom, Greece, Poland and Estonia are the only countries besides the U.S. to hit the target, according to NATO’s 2016 figures.

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