“Germany is delinquent,” says President Trump in Brexit boost

Trump slams Germany on defence and on trade

© The White House 2019

Brexit Facts4EU.Org presents the facts behind the President's words

On Wednesday morning 29 July, prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House, President Trump was asked by reporters about America's plans to pull one-third of its troops out of Germany.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Trump slams EU's largest country

  • USA to pull 12,500 troops out of Germany - “Germany is delinquent”, says President Trump
  • “Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO”
  • “And you think that’s bad? They take worse advantage on trade.”
  • 2,500 US troops stationed in the UK scheduled for German deployment will now stay in the UK

As the US President was preparing to leave the White House at 9.15am on Wednesday morning he made some very strong statements about the EU's largest country and largest economy. Here is the exchange.

This was President Trump on Wednesday

Q Mr. President, on NATO, you just gave the order to remove U.S. troops from Germany. How does that keep Russia in check?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Germany is delinquent. They haven’t paid their fees. They haven’t paid their NATO fees. And they’re way off, and they’ve been off for years, and they have no intention of paying it. And the United States has been taken advantage of on trade and on military and on everything else for many years, and I’m here and I’ve been straightening it out.

But Germany owes billions and billions of dollars to NATO. And why would we keep all of those troops there? And now Germany is saying it’s bad for their economy. Well, it’s good for our economy. Germany is delinquent. They’re at 1 percent. They should be at 2 percent. And actually, everybody should be at 4 percent, not 2 percent, because 2 percent is too low. But they’re at 1 percent, and they’ve take advantage of us for many years.

And you think that’s bad? They take worse advantage on trade. And I was all set to fix that, and then we got hit with the China plague. But we’ll be fixing it.

Source: The White House, 29 July 2020

So just how many billions does Germany owe?

The US President has consistently been attacking the EU's largest economy over its lack of defence spending, and threatening punitive trade sanctions over its enormous trade surplus with the United States. Brexit Facts4EU.Org has analysed the latest figures from NATO. We only took the data from the last five years, although the lack of investment in defence by EU27 countries has been going on for decades.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

The $147 billion dollar German defence deficit

  • In the last five years alone, Germany has underspent on defence by -$147 billion dollars
  • In the same period the UK has spent $16.2 billion MORE on defence than the required NATO minimum
  • The other EU members of NATO have underspent on defence by a total of -$446 billion dollars
  • And of all of this is only in the last 5 years, not including the decades before that

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

The new EU Commission President was German Defence Minister for all this time

Presiding over the massive underspend on defence by Germany in those five years was Ursula von der Leyen. Frau von der Leyen is now the new EU Commission President, and her new budget which has been provisionally approved increases EU defence spending.

None of this extra EU defence spending is going to NATO - the organisation that has preserved the peace in Europe for the last 70 years.

Is Trump also right about trade?

Here is what the US State Department says about Germany.

"Germany is the world’s third-largest exporter. Every fourth job in Germany depends on exports, which accounted for 47% of Germany’s GDP in 2018 (almost four times the export share of U.S. GDP)."

Germany runs a lucrative trade surplus with the US and has done for many years. In 2018 this surplus stood at $67.4bn in goods. In the same year Germany ran a $37bn trade surplus in goods with the UK.

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click to enlarge

On both defence and on trade, President Trump is correct in his analysis.


President Trump uses shorthand to communicate to ordinary voters. His messages are often ridiculed by the mainstream media who prefer long and sophisticated arguments.

NATO members are supposed to spend a minimum of 2% of their GDP on defence, and 20% of their total defence spend should be on equipment.

The UK is the only country in the EU to achieve both targets. Germany has consistently missed both targets by a country mile, for decades.

When the US President takes EU countries to task – especially the EU’s largest economy Germany – he is quite right to do so. And when he claims that these countries should be held responsible for their lack of expenditure on defence for decades, we agree.

In the last five years alone, the US spent $1.4 TRILLION dollars MORE than the NATO minimum. Germany spent $147 billion dollars LESS than the NATO minimum. We rest our case.

With Brexit looming - and if Trump puts sanctions on Germany - the EU is in trouble

When it comes to trade, Germany does very well out of exporting to the US and the UK. It cannot afford to have both prime export markets impacted by tariffs. Should Donald Trump win a second term, which contrary to the polling we think he will, then the EU's largest economy could be in for a very bumpy ride.

FOR READERS: We really do need your help to keep going. The research for an article such as that above takes a long time. We do it – and we spend a lot of time simplifying and making it punchy – because it gets read by far more politicians as well as members of the public. If you would like us to continue, please make a donation today. We DO affect the debate. Quick and safe donation methods are below this article, thank you.

[ Sources: NATO official figures | The White House | US State Dept | UK Office for National Statistics | EU Commission ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Sat 01 Aug 2020

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