Nato and EU agree to closer cooperation

Written by Martin Banks on 7 December 2016 in News

Nato foreign ministers have endorsed plans for closer cooperation between the western alliance and the EU.

Nato foreign ministers have endorsed plans for closer cooperation between the western alliance and the EU | Photo credit: Press Association

The move is seen as part of ongoing efforts by Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to encourage Nato members to meet their commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence.

The US President elect Donald Trump has also demanded that Europe's Nato members pay more of their share towards European defence. Currently only five Nato members meet the two per cent target.

At a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, a list of 40 proposals on closer cooperation between Nato and the EU was made public.


These cover areas including responding to 'hybrid' threats, on cyber defence, operations at sea, and strengthening the ability of neighbours to defend themselves. 

A joint EU/Nato statement issued after the meeting read, "More than ever before, the security of Europe and North America is interconnected. 

"Nato and EU face a series of unprecedented security challenges emanating from the south and the east that need to be addressed in a concerted and complementary way that avoids unnecessary duplication."

It went on, "The importance of a strong transatlantic bond, based on our shared values, which enhances our common security and ensures a fair and balanced burden-sharing, becomes even more pertinent in this challenging strategic environment.”"

The statement was signed by Stoltenberg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his Council counterpart Donald Tusk.

A Nato official told this website, "A quarter of the proposals which were endorsed this week relate to countering hybrid threats. 

"On hybrid specifically, Nato, the EU and member countries will be encouraged to participate in the work of the 'European centre for countering hybrid threats'."

Also on the agenda, said the official, are proposals to exchange information between the EU hybrid fusion cell and its Nato counterpart. 

Ministers also agreed at the meeting to better coordinate Nato's and the EU's parallel crisis response activities, as well as to bolster resilience against hybrid attacks by better aligning the Nato's defence planning process and the EU capability development plan. 

There was also approval of plans for closer cooperation between Nato and EU communications staff, specifically, to improve the sharing of analysis on disinformation.  

The official added, "Another interesting aspect in this week's agreement is the push on exercises. 

"In 2017, in an unprecedented step, the two (EU and Nato) will look into parallel and coordinated exercises - including planning together and sharing lessons learned - thereby ensuring they are even better prepared for any threat that may present itself. 

"We're not talking about Nato and the EU holding joint military drills involving thousands of troops. But enhanced cooperation could, for instance, include EU experts setting up a planning cell in parallel with Nato's crisis management exercise (CMX), which is held annually at Nato headquarters," added the Brussels-based official.

A Nato exercise typically involves hundreds of civil servants, diplomats and military personnel.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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