European Union president rejects Trump call for more NATO spending

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said Europe should resist U.S. pressure to spend more spending on defense.

U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized the NATO defense alliance, suggesting he could withdraw support if European countries did not raise defense spending to at least 2 percent of their economic output.

Jean-Claude Juncker speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In a speech on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Thursday, Juncker, who heads the European Union's executive arm, suggested some resistance to Trump's threat was in order.

"It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this," he said.

Juncker also said the EU's other spending commitments made up for any shortfalls in military funding.

"Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending," he said according to Reuters.

"If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different," he said.

Juncker added that European nations should bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently.

Estonian Special Forces soldiers seen reading a map after raiding the woods during a NATO troop exercise in Estonia.
Dmitri Beliakov | Washington Post | Getty Images

At a NATO meeting Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reinforced Trump's message, warning treaty allies they must boost their defense spending or America could "moderate its commitment."

"Americans cannot care more for your children's future security than you do. I owe it to you to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country's people in concrete terms," he said in a speech to NATO allies in the Belgian city of Brussels on Wednesday.

Mattis appeared to reassure NATO of the U.S. commitment to the treaty by rejecting closer military ties to Russia.

"We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level," he said, according to Reuters.

"But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground."

Reuters contributed to this report.