According to the Ministry of Defence, in 2015, defence expenditure for staff increased by 1.6%, while that for training (Operational related costs), was reduced by 14%. As announced, the 2016 Defence budget will be about €20 billion; 77% will be allocated to Personnel, 9% to Operational related costs and 11% to Investment (See chart below). 


Within an extremely complex and uncertain global environment, that has brought on the one hand wealth and development in many areas, and on the other hand an increase of economic disparities, the resurgence of nationalism and conflicts based on religious issues, Italy has to confront the existing risks, predict the unforeseen ones and finally preserve its sovereignty, as well as its strategic interests.

The widespread instability and insecurity that arose in the last decade -translated to terrorist attacks, migration, pandemics and crime-, have led Italy and its allies to raise their worries regarding their potential involvement in conflicts in the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Mediterranean areas. Therefore, in order to deal with these ‘intensive’ issues, directly affecting the country’s security and defence, the government has developed a comprehensive national security strategy that includes all segments of society, towards the guarantee of the freedom of the nation.

According to the 2015 White Paper, reforms are introduced in the form of a new strategy, related to the personnel, operations, deployment of troops, as well as more specific changes in Research, Development, Acquisition and Maintenance of existing capabilities.

This strategy, in the short term, includes the realistic prioritization of goals and the effective use of already existing resources, in order to maintain as low as possible the defence budget, as well as establish an appropriate balance between quantity, quality and capability of the military forces (consisting of the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Arm of Carabinieri). In addition, always considering the Mediterranean region as a priority, it is crucial for Italy to assess in what way and which extent the different alliances in which the country is member, contribute to the international security and defence of the nation. In the longer term, apart from identification, this policy-strategy focuses on the integrated use of existing and emerging technologies, to be used also, for civilian purposes, thus decreasing state control and prevention. Finally, within an increasingly connected world, Italy has placed emphasis on developing its strategy to prevent future cyber-attacks.
However, despite the potential dangers, a decrease in the defence budget and associated investments are unavoidable –common practice nowadays in the western world. Therefore, considering that this trend will continue (see chart below), preservance of its alliances, continuity of share & pool policies and persuasive diplomacy, are essential for Italy’s sovereignty, as well as global equilibrium. This leads Italy, to a more intensive pursuit of multinational integration of defence powers, which will incorporate command and control, training (standardization and international courses) and logistic support among the different contributing nations. To this end, Italy has recently (October 2016) presented in Brussels, a fiscal and financial plan, aimed towards joint projects, suggesting the funding of civilian and military missions, within an EU context, instead of the existing one at an individual state level (as it currently stands).

Finally, according to the latest 3-year defence plan (2015-2017), a transformation of the Italian Defence in order to be able to effectively address crisis situations and new forms of asymmetric and hybrid conflicts, concentrates on the development of concrete Defence capabilities, via the allocation of the budget and the segregation of responsibilities between the administrative and operational bodies. Within this context, the personnel (consisting today of some 220,000 people) will be reduced by 25% for military and 30% for the civil personnel (to some 150,000 and 20,000 respectively), always taking into consideration that this should meet associated needs over time and be deployable at short notice.

Despite the aforementioned, in the latest conversion of the bill of Decree 67/2016 -approved in July 2016, the participation of Italian Armed Forces and Police members, in international missions has been agreed (total number involved at the moment is about 6,000 people). This approval, grants the same extension in terms of the current development cooperation and support to peace-consolidation initiatives, as well as the deployment of an additional 750 military personnel, to be engaged in the surveillance of ‘sensitive’ targets.

According to Sipri data, military expenditure has decreased significantly to €25.5 billion -equal to 1.3% of the country’s GDP-, in 2015, when compared to the respective figure of 2005. Nevertheless, associated defence expenditure fluctuations in the last decade, do not reflect in significant changes in the respective % of GDP allocated per year.

According to the Ministry of Defence, in 2015, defence expenditure for staff increased by 1.6%, while that for training (Operational related costs), was reduced by 14%. As announced, the 2016 Defence budget will be about €20 billion; 77% will be allocated to personnel, 9% to operational related costs and 11% to Investment (See chart below). In 2017, defence expenditure for staff is projected to reach €9.8 billion (74.2% of the total budget), operational related costs €1.8 billion (9.6% of the total budget), while €2.1 billion (16.2% of the total budget) will be allocated to procurement of new equipment (investment).  

2017 Expenditure in € Billion As % of the Total Budget
Personnel 9.799 74.2%
Operational 1.272 9.6%
Investment 2.141 16.2%

In a different breakdown, the highest amount of the 2016 budget will be allocated to the National Military Police (Carabinieri) - €6.2 billion-, while the lowest amount -€2 billion- will be allocated to the Navy.

According to official estimations provided by the Ministry of defence Italian authorities has assigned to the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 a budget of respectively €20,261.8 million , €20,061.8 million and €20,027.3 million corresponding to 1.19%, 1,14% and 1,11% of the country's GDP, while a total of €47.5 billion will be spend in the 2017-2032 timeframe. 

Despite the reduced defence budget, according to the SIPRI database, arms imports by Italy increased significantly in 2015, reaching the amount of US $596 million (€ 536 million). These included funds spent on Ships (US $275 million), Aircraft (US $181 million), Sensors (US $65 million), Engines (US $43 million) and Artillery (US $32 million).

The main arms exporters to Italy, for 2015, as well as for the last decade, were Germany, the US, the UK, Israel and France.

In terms of recent and future procurements, the Italian Navy has ordered seven (7) ships to Leonardo-Finmeccanica, in a contract worth $5.8 billion. Related deliveries are to be completed by 2026 (as of November 2015). Moreover, two (2) high-speed multirole vessels –of US $45.2 million value - will be delivered to the Italian Ministry of Defence by the Italian Intermarine Shipbuilder, in combination with a 10-year support package (December 2015). Furthermore, as part of a European Program run by OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation), Italy received its final Carlo Bergamini-class (ASW variant) multi-mission frigate (FREMM frigate) it had on order, in September 2016. Finally, Italy is looking towards the purchase of 38 F-35 joint strike fighter jets (JSF), by 2020.

Within the context of the Share & Pool Policy, Italy, France and Germany, in May 2015, agreed upon the conduction of a scoping study for the development of the European Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (European MALE PRAS).

In April 2015, a joint agreement was signed between Italy and Jordan, for the training, manufacturing and exchange of expertise and information form military purposes.