Spain to boost defence spending
Spain is planning to boost defence spending by 73% to $22 billion by 2024, an announcement that sparked outrage among opposition MPs who say social services will suffer.
Maria Dolores de Cospedal, defence minister, said the conservative government planned to increase the military budget to ‘around 1.53% of GDP.’
According to the Spanish Defence Ministry, military spending currently stands at $12.8 billion, or 0.86% of GDP.
At the commission, opposition Socialist party lawmaker Ana Botella asked María Dolores de Cospedal for ‘explanations over the Spanish government's commitment to NATO’ to increase military spending.
She said many Spanish families' ‘daily lives are marked by hardship and precarity’, adding that defence spending was being increased at a time when austerity measures imposed during a severe economic crisis had weakened social services.
De Cospedal also announced that Spain would increase the number of military personnel in Mali from 140 to 292.
De Cospedal added: ‘We are seeing a new deterioration of the security situation in Mali, there are constant attacks against Malian institutions, against the UN stabilisation mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and against Western interests and personnel.’
Mali's army, a deployment of French soldiers and MINUSMA have little control over large tracts of the semi-desert African country despite almost five years of military operations to root out jihadists.