Center for Strategic Decision Research



NATO-EU Cooperation Requires Political Will

Ambassador Harri Tiido
Permanent Representative of Estonia on the North Atlantic Council

Listening to the panelists for the NATO/EU session, I get the feeling that there is the EU and there is NATO. We in the EU find it this way and those in NATO find it this way. Well, there is no EU and there is no NATO—there are member-nations. Without member-nations, the international staff and the council and committee staffs would be out of a job. There are 19 nations that are part of both organizations, and instead of talking as though we have a split personality—I do not have a split personality—we must look at EU and NATO from the aspect of cooperation. Individual nations have identities—as a nation, a region, part of Europe, part of the transatlantic community—but the greater the number of identities, the easier it should be to accept the concept of cooperation.


Some nations, however, have what Alain de Botton calls “status anxiety” in his book of the same name—the concern that cooperation might diminish or raise the nation’s status. And right now I find cooperation between NATO and the EU totally lacking, especially at the political level, and every kind of cooperation, especially military cooperation, needs a political framework. Yes, there are papers—there is the declaration from the 2002 Berlin Plus—but this document is nearly five years old and the world is changing. We must do the same, but how?

First, perhaps, we should sit down and write down all the fields and issues that need cooperation, on the consultation level, the political level, and so on, regardless of the documents that have been drawn up. We could make this list and then take out Berlin Plus and see what fits in and what does not. If a number of issues do not fit in, then we could renegotiate Berlin Plus.

Let’s say, for example, that we needed to discuss Byelorussia both in the EU and NATO. We could discuss it together as well because nations would not have one view in one organization and a different view in the other. The issue of Iran could be discussed as an acute security issue. The issue of the Balkans could be discussed on an operational level. We could also discuss the issue of the Caucasus, the issue of energy security, terrorism, etc. As far as agencies go, the European Defense Agency has been working for some time on the long-term vision that has been referred to. It seems only natural that the Allied Command Transformation would be involved in this work as well because they too are trying to define the security environment that will exist in the world in 20 or 25 years, and there should not be two different future environments, one for NATO and one for the EU.


I believe the EU and NATO could coordinate their views on many wider issues.

But cooperation is not working, basically because of the lack of political will. I do not want to say that the staffs on both sides are trying to keep everything to themselves, and keep it separate. But I do think the nations need to take up this issue. The German minister of defense did refer several times in his workshop presentation to the need for good relations. Ambassador Nuland also mentioned EU-NATO cooperation, and Madame Arnould talked about several small but important obstacles that have been around for decades. However, I believe that in the case of the Defense Planning Questionnaire, the issue on the EU side can be solved and the 23 in favor can be turned to 25 provided the missing two sign the NATO information security agreement. It can be done without membership in the PfP and it can be done legally. For cooperation to take place, however, we need the political will. We also need to remove the obstacle on the NATO side. But the member-nations have to work on it.


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