BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European defence spending topped 200 billion euros for the first time in 2021, the European Defence Agency (EDA) said on Thursday, accounting for 1.5% of the 26 EDA member states' gross domestic product.
It rose 6% from 2020 to 214 billion euros ($225 billion), EDA said in its annual Defence Data Report, the strongest growth since the region started boosting military expenditure in 2015 following Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Created in 2004, EDA's main task is to support and facilitate defence cooperation in Europe. All EU countries apart from Denmark are members.
EDA said the countries with the highest increases were Italy, Finland, Greece and Slovenia.
"Member states' announcements following Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine signal that the increases in expenditure are likely to continue in the years ahead," it added.
EDA members also spent more money on joint procurement, rising to 18% from 11% though still far below the 35% target for collaborative spending.
"Spending alone is not enough, we need to do it better, and that means doing it together," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who doubles as EDA head.
($1 = 0.9519 euros)
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by GV De Clercq and John Stonestreet)