Merkel says Germany to give big boost to defense spending

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany December 1, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

PADERBORN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that Europe’s largest economy would significantly boost defense spending in the coming years to move towards the NATO target for member states to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense.

But Merkel, addressing a conference of the youth wing of her conservatives, did not specify by how much defense spending would rise.

Merkel said U.S. President Barack Obama had told her it could no longer be the case that the U.S. spends 3.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on security while Germany - its close NATO ally - only spends 1.2 percent of GDP on that.

“To get from 1.2 percent to 2 percent, we need to increase it by a huge amount,” Merkel said.

In 2016 Germany’s budget for defense spending stands at 34.3 billion euros so it would need to be increased by more than 20 billion euros to reach the 2 percent target.

Reporting by Reuters TV and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Andrew Bolton