The ‘Peace Dividend’ Is Over in Europe. Now Come the Hard Tradeoffs.

“The end of the peace dividend is a big rupture,” said Daniel Daianu, chairman of the Fiscal Council in Romania and a former finance minister.

Before war broke out in Ukraine, military spending by the European members of NATO was expected to reach nearly $1.8 trillion by 2026, a 14 percent increase over five years, according to research by McKinsey & Company. Now, spending is estimated to rise between 53 and 65 percent.

That means hundreds of billions of dollars that otherwise could have been used to, say, invest in bridge and highway repairs, child care, cancer research, refugee resettlement or public orchestras is expected to be redirected to the military.

Last week, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that military spending in Europe last year had its biggest annual rise in three decades. And the spendathon is just beginning.

The demand for military spending will be on display Wednesday when the European Union’s trade commissioner, Thierry Breton, is expected to discuss his fact-finding tour to determine whether European nations and weapons manufacturers can produce one million rounds of 155-millimeter shells for Ukraine this year, and how production can be increased.

Poland has pledged to spend 4 percent of its national output on defense. The German defense minister has asked for an additional $11 billion next year, a 20 percent increase in military spending. President Emmanuel Macron of France has promised to lift military spending by more than a third through 2030 and to “transform” France’s nuclear-armed military.

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