Dutch PM calls Trump's EU Defense-spending, UN criticism "justified"

Prime Minister Mark Rutte understands why American president Donald Trump is critical of NATO and EU countries' Defense spending, he said in a speech about cooperation between the United States and the Netherlands. He also called Trump's criticism of the United Nations "at its core, justified", RTL Nieuws reports.

NATO countries agreed to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on Defense by 2024. The Netherlands, and some other European Union member states, has not yet reached that target. Trump and his administration regularly criticize European NATO countries for not increasing their Defense budgets.

"Anyone who is a member of a club has to pay the fee. We may not like it, but the time in which Europe could hide under the American security umbrella for a minimal amount, is over", Rutte said in his speech. "That movement already started under Obama and the current one makes no secret of it the fact that the disproportionate division of costs within NATO is a thorn in his side. To be honest, I can only show a lot of understanding for that."

Rutte is a strong supporter of NATO. He's said multiple times in the past that there is no other alternative - the Netherlands and the EU cannot guarantee safety on their own. "The fact is that after the Brexit, about a fifth of NATO's total military spending will be raised by the remaining EU members. No more than that. That cannot be sustained in the long term", Rutte said. 

Rutte advocated for continuing international cooperation, in NATO, the UN and the European Union. But he also acknowledged that there are problems, mentioning the slow-decision making in the UN and China's status as a developing country. "President Trump's criticism - but not only his - is firm, that is true. But at its core, much of that criticism is justified. And so I think that we should see President Trump's behavior as an opportunity to push through and improve and update the international system", the Dutch Prime Minister said.