The legislation is also intended to ensure stable funding for costly defence projects to modernise the military. Credit: Freepik.

President Signs Bill Raising Czech Defence Spending To At Least 2% of GDP

The Czech Republic will spend at least 2% of GDP annually on defence as of 2024, according to a government bill signed into law by President Petr Pavel this week, his office has announced.

The legislation, which will come into force in July and will already apply to next year’s state budget, is also intended to ensure stable funding for costly defence projects to modernise the military.

Pavel also signed an amendment to the defence law which will provide Czechs with broader possibilities to participate in the state defence

The Czech Republic has made repeated commitments in NATO to increase its defence spending. The new law orders the cabinet to set defence spending at a minimum of 2% of GDP in the proposed budget.

Compared to the medium-term budget outlook, the Defence Ministry’s budget would increase by about CZK 21.5 billion in 2024, according to notes justifying the legislative change. The government plans have so far envisaged defence spending of CZK 130 billion.

At the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will propose that the current target of 2% of GDP for defence spending should not be a ceiling, but a minimum threshold from which the member countries’ budgets should be drafted.

Along with enacting higher defence spending, the new law also stipulates that the total defence spending could include expenditures from other ministries and offices. However, this spending would have to meet the definitions in NATO documents. Other ministries will notify the Defence Ministry of such spending plans three years in advance for inclusion in the defence budget.

The law will change the rules of financing large long-term projects with a major impact on the state defence capability with costs exceeding CZK 300 million. The cabinet will decide on such projects, and the Defence Ministry will have a comprehensive annual sum for them, enabling it to use the money for individual projects more easily.

It stipulates, among other things, that newly state-owned businesses and the Budejovicky Budvar brewery national company will have accounts that fall under the national treasury. They will keep accounts in the Czech National Bank (CNB), and could open them elsewhere only with the consent of the Finance Ministry.

The amendment to the state defence law, which Pavel also signed, covers the remuneration of active reserves and allows the Defence Ministry to use data from the public administration information systems for defence planning, even without a state of national emergency or a state of war.

Currently, people can become professional soldiers, join the active reserves or voluntarily take part in military exercises. The new law adds the option to become voluntarily involved in the national defence. Those who apply would only have to undergo an immediate medical check-up, and would undergo military training only if the security situation worsened. The obligation would be imposed by the cabinet through a government measure, and the Chamber of Deputies could reject it.

The amendment will allow the state to pay an annual recruitment bonus to new members of the active reserves, and also introduces a special bonus for them. The government draft does not change the current annual remuneration of CZK 18,000, but will make it conditional on a longer, at least two-week, active service compared to the previous one week of military training annually. Active reserves will now be able to receive extra bonuses based on the results of their service assessment.

President Signs Bill Raising Czech Defence Spending To At Least 2% of GDP
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