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Obama warns against cutting too much defence spending

Funding gap widening between U.S. NATO allies in Europe

27 March, 17:25
Obama warns against cutting too much defence spending (See related) (ANSA) - Rome, March 27 - United States President Barack Obama warned Europe against cutting too much from defence budgets Thursday, saying that the gap between spending by the US and NATO allies in Europe is too wide.

That gap "has become too significant," and instead, everyone must take their share of the joint defence burden, Obama said following bilateral meetings with Italian Premier Matteo Renzi, who had previously given notice that he intended to trim Italy's budget for defence.

Renzi has raised the possibility of cutting defence spending, including the multi-billion euro budget for the F-35 fighter jet program that has been trimmed once before, and possibly selling some 385 military barracks.

For now, spending on the F-35 has been frozen, pending a parliamentary review of military spending.

Obama suggested he could understand government efforts to trim costs, but if countries are serious about their role in NATO, "there is a certain commitment countries must have".

The Italian government's Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets' budget is currently about 11.8 billion euros over 45 years, beginning in 2015.

In 2012, Italy announced plans to cut its order to 90 from the 131 fight jets originally agreed in 2002, saving the country some five billion euros at that time.