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EU needs NATO protection against China and Russia — Dutch PM Rutte

EU needs NATO protection against China and Russia — Dutch PM Rutte
REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
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The EU needs the US for protection against China and Russia, the Dutch Prime minister, Mark Rutte, said in a speech at the Dutch Atlantic Association on Friday.

He advocated for the EU to increase funds to keep NATO afloat in the face of growing threats from China, Russia and other countries.

"We cannot guarantee our own security", Rutte said, arguing that Europe has no alternative to its alliance with the US.

This, he added, means that Europe should agree to US president Donald Trump's demands and cultivate a good relationship with the United States: "We do not like it, but the time when Europe could hide under the US security umbrella for a tiny amount of money is over", he said.

In regards to his own country, the Dutch PM said his analysis was based on a Netherlands Atlantic Association study. "Almost three-quarters of all Dutch people consider NATO membership to be important for our security", he noted.

For years, US President Donald Trump has been pushing for NATO members — and especially the EU — to increase their contributions. The US has also reduced some military spending in Europe to finance, such as the border separation wall with Mexico.

In 2014, NATO members agreed to increase military spending to 2% of their gross domestic product by 2024.

The Dutch military spending has increased by 25% since 2014, but still only reached 1.2% of GDP last year. The Rutte government plans to further increase defense spending in the coming years. "But we have to be honest, that we won't reach 2% by 2024," Rutte said.

Some analysts and leaders wonder if it is not time to bury NATO. To put pressure on his partners, Trump declared last year that "he may be outdated".

The US is the country that contributes most to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with 22% of direct contributions. NATO recently turned 70.