Third largest economy in the European Union [UE]Italy had to impose a strict budget diet on its armed forces from 2012, at the time of the debt crisis. For the President of the Council, then Mario Monti, the challenge was to achieve at least EUR 20 billion in savings over the next two years… And the military budget was largely used to achieve this objective.
In 2015, Italian military expenditure amounted to 17.6 billion euros, according to NATO figures. Thereafter, they rose significantly, reaching just over €20 billion in 2016. Starting in 2020, another major effort was made, with the budget of the transalpine armed forces eventually exceeding €26 billion.
And while the political situation did not necessarily lend itself to it, the governing coalition led by Mario Draghi had to deal with the different sensitivities that compose it, some, such as those embodied by the Five Star Movement. [située à gauche]who are not necessarily in favor of such a significant increase in military spending.
Regardless, Italy’s defense efforts reached 1.4% of its GDP in 2021 [soit 28,3 milliards d’euros]† This allows it to launch and finance many programs such as the construction of the Trieste aircraft carrier, the purchase of F-35 fighter aircraft, participation in the Tempest project, studies related to two new “Cacciatorpediniere” [ou « destroyers »] or even the renewal of the center armour.
However, this is still insufficient to meet the target of bringing military spending to 2% of GDP by 2024. An objective that Italy fulfilled at the NATO summit in Newport [Royaume-Uni] in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
If, after long hesitation, Germany finally agreed to make a significant effort for its armed forces after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine [avec un fonds spécial de 100 milliards d’euros et un budget militaire d’un montant supérier à 2% du PIB]Italy is preparing to do the same… But by 2028.
Thus, on March 30, the majority supporting Mr Draghi’s government reached an agreement on a financial path aimed at achieving the objective endorsed by Rome in the framework of NATO. But at the cost of concession to the Five Star Movement, which has effectively increased Italian military spending to 2% of GDP in 2028 and not in 2024. By this deadline, the transalpine armed forces should benefit from an annual budget that is about 12 billion euros higher compared to that of 2022.
That said, all of this must be made conditional… as no one knows which governing coalition will lead Italy by then. Meanwhile, this increase in military spending to 2% of GDP is not supported by Italian public opinion. According to an questionnaire published on March 29 by TgLa7, only 34% of those polled are in favor of it, compared to 54% who don’t think such an effort is necessary.