In a statement Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, Denmark will significantly increase its defence budget and aims to slash its dependence on Russian natural gas following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Denmark aims to increase its defence spending gradually to reach 2% of its GDP by 2033, equivalent to an increase in annual defence spending of around $2.65 billion (18 billion Danish crowns).
The ruling parties of Denmark also agreed to set aside 7 billion crowns over the next two years to strengthen Danish defence, diplomacy and humanitarian efforts.
“Historic times call for historic decisions,” said Frederiksen while adding this was “the largest investment in Danish defence in recent times”.
In 2019, Denmark, a NATO member, agreed to increase military spending from 1.35% of its economic output to 1.5% by 2023. The United States, a major weapon supplier, had pressured Denmark to boost its defense spending to reach NATO’s target of 2% of its GDP.
Last week, Germany said, it would sharply increase its defense spending to more than 2% of its GDP and quickly reduce its dependence on Russian energy.
“Putin’s pointless and brutal attack on Ukraine has heralded a new era in Europe, a new reality,” said Frederiksen. “Ukraine’s struggle is not just Ukraine’s, it’s a test of strength for everything we believe in, our values, democracy, human rights, peace and freedom.”
To accommodate higher defence spending, Denmark’s current budget restrictions will be eased, and the deficit will turn negative after 2025.
“The main parliamentary parties had agreed that Denmark should become independent of Russian gas as soon as possible”, said Frederiksen without placing a timeframe.
Denmark is also slated to hold a referendum on June 1 on whether it will participate in the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Thirty years before, Denmark had opted out of the CSDP.
($1 = 6.8038 Danish crowns)