Welfare comes before defense spending: Merkel

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 14, 2017 8:54 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that welfare and social spending must take precedence over the increased military expenditure demanded by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The conservative leader's Social Democratic (SPD) rivals in an election on Sept. 24 have accused her of bowing to the U.S. administration's demand that Germany meet NATO's spending target of 2 percent of national output on defense.

The SPD, who lag Merkel's Christian Democrats in the polls by some 15 percentage points, said Germany would have to nearly double current defense spending from 37 billion euros ($43.65 billion) to meet the NATO target.

Merkel's ruling coalition, which includes the SPD as junior partner, has approved defense spending hikes that fall short of the NATO target.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Joseph Nasr, editing by Thomas Escritt)