The Netherlands, the Defense example to follow in Western Europe?

In 2015, the Netherlands was one of the countries that devoted the least of its wealth to its armies. Classified among the frugal, with the strictest management, The Hague then seemed to be at the forefront of European countries ready to delegate their defense to American protection, to invest as little as possible in this area.

Nine years later, the face presented by the Netherlands and its armies is radically different. Not only is the country one of the Europeans having agreed to the largest increase in its defense effort over this period, but it is among the most active and determined supporters of Ukraine in Europe, in relative value ( to its GDP), as well as in absolute value.

To the point that the Hague is, today, on an equal footing, in terms of determination, with the most dynamic countries of Eastern or Northern Europe, and sets itself up as a model for many European countries of the West, much more timid in their decisions to increase their defense investments or their military support for Kyiv.

The Dutch defense budget increased from €8 to €21,4 billion from 2015 to 2024

One value alone summarizes all the progress made by The Hague since 2015, in its perception of the need to support its defense effort: 167,5%. This is the increase in the defense budget agreed by the Netherlands, between 2015, when it was less than €8 billion, and 2024, when it reached €21,4 billion.

Dutch armies CV90
The Dutch armed forces are engaged in a vast effort of forced reconstruction and modernization after having been severely handicapped by the Benefits of Peace.

Even better, The Hague does not intend to stop there, since the country's authorities have announced that this budget will reach €25 billion in 2025, and €30 billion in 2030. The Dutch defense effort will thus have increased from 1,1% GDP in 2015, to 1,95% in 2024 , to settle between 2,2 and 2,3% of GDP in 2030, while achieving the objective of 2% in 2025, set by NATO.

Thus, compensated for inflation, the budget of the Dutch armies will have doubled in ten years, whereas, in France, it will not have progressed. which » by 35%. Note that the real inflection point of the Dutch defense effort does not date from 2015, but from 2018, the defense budget having increased, over this year alone, by almost 12%, from €8,54 billion. and €9,42 billion, then €10,72 billion in 2019 and €11,48 billion in 2020.

The trigger, for The Hague, was flight MH17 left Amsterdam and shot down by a Russian Buk missile while flying over Ukraine. After the Covid crisis, the second inflection point arrived in 2022, the budget increasing from €11,79 billion in 2021 to €14,84 billion in 2022 against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, an increase of almost 26%. in a single year. Effort continued in the following years, to reach €15,4 billion in 2023 (+3,8%), €21,4 billion in 2024 (+40%) and €25 billion in 2025 (+16,8%).

Balanced investments between Europe and the USA for its Defense equipment

On the basis of these budgetary resources, The Hague has announced, in recent years, numerous programs aimed at modernizing, strengthening and sometimes expanding the capabilities of its armed forces.

Netherlands F-35
After initially ordering 37 F-35As, the Dutch air forces managed to increase this fleet to 52 fighters, to respond to operational pressure and overcome excessive optimism in the initial sizing.

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