WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration will pay less to NATO under an agreement reached days before the president is set to travel to London to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 29-member trans-Atlantic alliance.
A NATO official speaking on the condition of anonymity told USA TODAY that member states agreed to a new formula this week for the organization’s common funding, which covers the cost of a headquarters and some military operations. The move is largely symbolic because it is separate from the defense spending Trump focuses on.
“Under the new formula, cost shares attributed to most European Allies and Canada will go up, while the US share will come down,” the NATO official said. “This is an important demonstration of Allies’ commitment to the Alliance and to fairer burden-sharing.”
The move comes after French President Emmanuel Macron told The Economist in an interview earlier this month that NATO was experiencing “brain death,” warning that the European members could no longer rely on U.S. leadership. German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the remarks as “drastic words” that did not reflect her view.
Trump has long complained about cost-sharing with the alliance. Most of those complaints have focused on countries that are not meeting the goal of spending 2% of economic output on defense budgets, a goal NATO members agreed to in 2014 during the Obama administration.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in 1949 with Europe still reeling from the devastation of World War II. Concerned about communist expansion in Europe and the increased capability of enemies to reach across the Atlantic, the U.S., Canada and other nations embraced a system of collective defense.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump will meet with allies on the outskirts of London on Dec. 3-4 for the annual NATO meeting. They will discuss a wide variety of strategic economic and security issues: threats from cyberspace, terrorism, Syria’s eight-year-old civil war, China’s growing military might, an assertive Russia, space warfare and more.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, Kim Hjelmgaard