On November 05th, 2022, Irish left-wing party Independents 4 change (I4C) MP Mick Wallace, tweeted that the “Reality is EU now spends 3 times more than Russia” on defence. After analysing the figures Mr. Wallace refers to in his claim, it becomes clear that the claim is mostly true.
Numbers from 2021
During a word exchange at the Security and Defence Committee (SEDE) Mr. Wallace provided a statement that according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database the EU’s defence budget for 2021 was three times bigger than the one of Russia.
According to data from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, the defense expenditure for 2021 was $ 257,096 billion for the EU and $ 65,907 billion for Russia. This figure is greatly different from those presented by Mr. Wallace, in which he not only claimed the EU spent $ 216 billion in 2021 but also that this number is 3 times greater than Russia’s figure.
Against the militarisation
Wallace is active in the Security and Defence Committees in the parliament, where he is a vocal opponent of defence spending. During his career, Mick Wallace has worked to highlight and oppose the increasing militarisation of the EU. Wallace sees it as a “detrimental policy that will do nothing for peace and will only enrich the Military Industrial Complex”. On his Twitter account, he wonders why the EU doesn’t want to put the money on their own citizens.
In order to illustrate the differences between both the EU and Russia’s military spending , the figures from the SIPRI database were scrutinized. Since the database does not display an exact number for the EU, all separate member states’ expenditures for 2021 were added up to create the EU’s total defence expenditure for direct comparison against the figures on Russia.
For the year 2021, the total expenditure of all EU member states ($ 257,096.40 billion) was divided by Russia’s expenditure ($ 65,907.71 billion). This results in the defence expense being 3.9 times bigger than Russia.
In short, Mick Wallace’s claim is mostly true. Al though his statement is not entirely correct, the numbers found support the point he is trying to make. As a matter of fact, it favours his argument even more. On a sidenote, with the ongoing war in Ukraine there will probably be a significant impact on military expenditure in 2022. Therefore, the figures from 2021 don’t straightforwardly give a realistic view of the situation right now. EUfactcheck tried to contact Mick Wallace on the topic, but the MP did not respond to the request.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Emma-Roosa Saareks & Rafael Stroobants, Thomas More University, Mechelen, Belgium. Research and production done during a cross-national collaboration week with The University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
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