In 2016, the EU’s 28 Member States earmarked €200 billion of public expenditure for ‘defence’.
This is equivalent to 1.3% of GDP.
This is much less than the amount spent on social protection (expenditure equivalent to 19.1% of GDP in 2016), health (7.1%) or education (4.7%), but higher than public spending on recreation, culture and religion (1.0%), environmental protection (0.7%) and housing and community amenities (0.6%).
Highest share of expenditure on defence in Estonia, lowest in Ireland
In 2016, the ratio of government defence expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States from 0.3% in Ireland, 0.4% in Luxembourg, 0.6% in Malta and Austria, to 2.4% in Estonia, 2.1% in Greece, 2.0% in the United Kingdom and 1.8% in France.
In absolute terms, the United Kingdom spent the most on defence (€47 bn in 2016). This is equivalent to almost a quarter (24%) of the total EU public expenditure on defence. It was followed by France (€41 bn, or 20% of the EU total), Germany (€33 bn, or 16%) and Italy (€22 bn, or 11%). Together, these four Member States accounted for 71% of the total defence expenditure in the EU.