NATO members had once again failed to meet their defence spending targets in 2012, the military alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was due to announce Thursday, urging countries not to neglect military budgets amid the economic crisis, dpa reportes.
In 2012, only a handful of NATO's 28 member states achieved the bloc's self-imposed target of spending 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence, a fifth of which is to be invested into major equipment purchases, according to the annual report being published Thursday.
Rasmussen was expected to warn of growing inequalities in defence capabilities, amid global threats to security including terrorism, piracy, cyber warfare and unstable states, as he presented the report.
"We can't expect the security challenges to just go away as we fix our economies," a NATO official said on condition of anonymity.
Downward spending trends could create disparities among European NATO members and a growing gap between European and Northern American allies, and skew global capacities to act toward emerging powers, Rasmussen was due to warn.
At the same time, he was to lay out a defence strategy based on greater cooperation between NATO allies - both in terms of shared equipment and the ability to work together - as agreed at the bloc's Chicago summit last year.
Although France had intervened unilaterally in Mali, other countries' contributions of military commitment and expertise to the mission showed the importance of being able to work collectively, a NATO official said.
"NATO needn't be the framework but it is the point of reference," the official said.
Furthermore, investment in the defence industry also boosted jobs, innovation and exports and should therefore not be neglected at times of crisis, Rasmussen was expected to say.