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Understanding EU-NATO cooperation: Theory and practice

08-10-2020

The European Union and NATO have gone through the most acute strategic challenges of the Euro-Atlantic space together. Their history of cooperation is long and has seen both ups and downs. Already in 1949, the two defence players in western Europe, NATO and the Western Union (later the Western European Union), had begun to interact. In the 1990s, as the shift from nuclear deterrence to crisis management took place, the EU and NATO began to cooperate on operations, particularly in the Balkans. In ...

The European Union and NATO have gone through the most acute strategic challenges of the Euro-Atlantic space together. Their history of cooperation is long and has seen both ups and downs. Already in 1949, the two defence players in western Europe, NATO and the Western Union (later the Western European Union), had begun to interact. In the 1990s, as the shift from nuclear deterrence to crisis management took place, the EU and NATO began to cooperate on operations, particularly in the Balkans. In the early 2000s, the two cemented a strategic partnership based on mutually reinforcing cooperation, with crisis management at its heart. One concrete example is the EU's Operation Althea, still ongoing today, which the EU took over from NATO in 2004 and conducted while also making use of NATO assets. The dynamic of cooperation has intensified in the face of new threats ranging from terrorism to climate change to hybrid warfare. Each of these challenges shares one feature: they are common to both the EU and NATO. This realisation has given political impetus to formalise the current level of cooperation, through a joint declaration and concrete follow-up actions. In practice, this means joint training and exercises on matters ranging from cyber defence to hybrid warfare. There is also close coordination on foreign policy issues, including on 5G and cooperation with China, with the aim of crafting a solid joint approach. While the coronavirus pandemic has tested the resilience of EU-NATO cooperation, being met with coordination and a robust crisis response, questions nevertheless remain regarding the way forward for EU-NATO cooperation. For instance, the need to clarify the relationship between the EU and NATO's mutual defence clauses has become apparent. The materialisation of EU ambitions for strategic sovereignty, not least through multiple defence cooperation initiatives, will also present a test to the resilience of EU-NATO cooperation.

NATO’s response in the fight against coronavirus

10-06-2020

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination ...

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) might not be the first organisation that comes to mind for fighting pandemics. As the coronavirus crisis hit the world indiscriminately, NATO was fast to react, and used all the instruments in its toolbox to assist Allied countries and partners. From coordinating the transport of medicines and supplies, to launching scientific programmes to study the virus, NATO has again proven its value in times of crisis. Close European Union (EU) and NATO coordination during the crisis was equally helpful in ensuring a coherent, civil-military approach.

European Defence Fund: Multiannual financial framework 2021-2027

15-05-2019

In June 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on a European Defence Fund, including a budget allocation of €13 billion in current prices for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal aims to streamline and simplify the current legislation by integrating the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (research window) and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (as one part of the capability window) into a single fund. The main aims of the fund are to foster the competitiveness ...

In June 2018, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal on a European Defence Fund, including a budget allocation of €13 billion in current prices for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal aims to streamline and simplify the current legislation by integrating the Preparatory Action on Defence Research (research window) and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (as one part of the capability window) into a single fund. The main aims of the fund are to foster the competitiveness and innovativeness of European defence and to contribute to the EU's strategic autonomy. In this regard, the fund would support collaborative industrial projects; co finance the costs of prototype development; encourage the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises; and promote projects in the framework of permanent structured cooperation. Synergies are expected with other EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, maritime transport, border management, Horizon Europe, the space programme and the European Peace Facility. In April 2019, after several trilogue meetings, Parliament and Council reached a partial agreement on the programme, covering the content, but not, among other things, budgetary issues. Parliament adopted its position at first reading in April. Further discussions on the outstanding issues can be expected once Council reaches agreement on the overall multiannual budget. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Military mobility

12-03-2019

Military logistics was defined by Baron Henri de Jomini as 'the practical art of moving armies'. In the event of an unpredictable crisis at any border of the European Union (EU), military personnel and equipment must be able to move rapidly across the territory. Currently, training and the movement of military assets across the continent is severely hampered by the lack of appropriate infrastructure and cumbersome customs procedures. This strategic weakness in European defence cooperation is being ...

Military logistics was defined by Baron Henri de Jomini as 'the practical art of moving armies'. In the event of an unpredictable crisis at any border of the European Union (EU), military personnel and equipment must be able to move rapidly across the territory. Currently, training and the movement of military assets across the continent is severely hampered by the lack of appropriate infrastructure and cumbersome customs procedures. This strategic weakness in European defence cooperation is being addressed by means of action on military mobility: an action plan by the European Commission, a project and commitment under permanent structured cooperation, and a key action for EU-NATO cooperation. Military mobility is meant to ensure the seamless movement of military equipment across the EU by reducing physical, legal and regulatory obstacles.

Foreign policy and defence challenges [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-01-2019

The European Union will face increasingly serious foreign policy and defence challenges in 2019. The current Administration in the United States seems to be abandoning its traditional role of ‘benign protector’ of the rules-based international order. Russia, according to many analysts, continues to try to undermine the democratic process in many Western countries, and China’s foreign policy is becoming more and more assertive, notably in the economic field. Furthermore, migration, Brexit and cybersecurity ...

The European Union will face increasingly serious foreign policy and defence challenges in 2019. The current Administration in the United States seems to be abandoning its traditional role of ‘benign protector’ of the rules-based international order. Russia, according to many analysts, continues to try to undermine the democratic process in many Western countries, and China’s foreign policy is becoming more and more assertive, notably in the economic field. Furthermore, migration, Brexit and cybersecurity, as well as a lack of EU unity on certain issues, also feature amongst key challenges. This note offers links to recent selected commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on EU foreign and defence policies. Links to more reports on President Donald Trump’s policies, Russia, EU-China relations and NATO are available in previous items in this series, published last year.

Future EU-Turkey relations

23-10-2018

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With ...

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With the constitutional referendum and the subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections, President Erdogan further reinforced his position at the helm of the institutional system and raised concerns among the EU and NATO about his commitment to Western institutions. Turkey deepened its relations with Russia, buying military equipment and coordinating with it on Syrian policies on the ground. At the same time, US-Turkish relations worsened due to the Syrian conflict and the imprisonment of a US pastor by Turkey, although he was subsequently released. Negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU have nevertheless continued, despite an increasingly lively debate in some Member States about whether or not they should be halted. Some have proposed striking an economic agreement with Turkey as an alternative to membership. Others believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the numerous hurdles before it, accession not only remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by both the European Council and by Turkey, but it also provides potential for reform and dialogue regarding common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.

Outlook for the meetings of EU Heads of State or Government, 17-18 October 2018

16-10-2018

As has become the norm with European Council meetings, EU Heads of State or Government will convene on 17 and 18 October 2018 in different formats with varying compositions and levels of formality: a regular meeting of the European Council, and an enlarged Euro Summit of 27 Member States on 18 October, preceded by a European Council (Article 50) meeting on the 17 October over dinner. The agenda of the European Council meeting focuses on migration and internal security. Specific foreign policy issues ...

As has become the norm with European Council meetings, EU Heads of State or Government will convene on 17 and 18 October 2018 in different formats with varying compositions and levels of formality: a regular meeting of the European Council, and an enlarged Euro Summit of 27 Member States on 18 October, preceded by a European Council (Article 50) meeting on the 17 October over dinner. The agenda of the European Council meeting focuses on migration and internal security. Specific foreign policy issues might also be addressed at this meeting. The Euro Summit will discuss the state of play of negotiations on the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), with a view to the next Euro Summit in December. However, the priority issue for Heads of State or Government will be Brexit. At the European Council (Article 50) meeting, EU-27 leaders are expected to discuss the progress that has been achieved in the negotiations so far, and possibly call for an extraordinary summit in November 2018.

The future of the European Defence Agency (EDA)

18-07-2018

The aim of the workshop, held on 22 November 2017, was to discuss the future of the European Defence Agency (EDA) against the backdrop of framing a common Union defence policy. The first speaker, Dr Christian Mölling, provided an analysis of the issue of defence cooperation among EU member states and the difficulties it faces. In this context, he described the role and power of the EDA as well as possible options for its future. The second speaker, Professor David Versailles, focused on capabilities ...

The aim of the workshop, held on 22 November 2017, was to discuss the future of the European Defence Agency (EDA) against the backdrop of framing a common Union defence policy. The first speaker, Dr Christian Mölling, provided an analysis of the issue of defence cooperation among EU member states and the difficulties it faces. In this context, he described the role and power of the EDA as well as possible options for its future. The second speaker, Professor David Versailles, focused on capabilities and competencies as well as on the interaction between civilian and military capabilities. The presentations were followed by a debate involving members of the Security and Defence Committee of the European Parliament.

Autore esterno

Dr Christian MÖLLING; Dr Valérie MERINDOL and Dr David W. VERSAILLES

2018 NATO summit: A critical time for European defence

10-07-2018

On 11 and 12 July 2018 the NATO Heads of State and Government will meet in Brussels for the 28th NATO summit. The summit comes at a time of tension in transatlantic relations, but also of continuing threats and challenges posed to the alliance. Against this background, leaders will focus on strengthening defence and deterrence, modernising the alliance and enhancing relations with the EU. Burden-sharing among allies is set to be one of the most controversial items on the agenda. In 2018 only eight ...

On 11 and 12 July 2018 the NATO Heads of State and Government will meet in Brussels for the 28th NATO summit. The summit comes at a time of tension in transatlantic relations, but also of continuing threats and challenges posed to the alliance. Against this background, leaders will focus on strengthening defence and deterrence, modernising the alliance and enhancing relations with the EU. Burden-sharing among allies is set to be one of the most controversial items on the agenda. In 2018 only eight out of twenty nine NATO members are estimated to be reaching the 2 % of gross domestic product (GDP) defence spending target. The Brussels summit aims to push forward the agenda, decisions and actions agreed upon at previous summits, notably in Wales (2014) and Warsaw (2016). Yet there are fears that the insistence of US President Donald Trump that the focus be placed on burden sharing and demands that the NATO allies spend more on defence, might lead to the side-lining of other items on the agenda. The situation is aggravated by the current climate in transatlantic relations, which has deteriorated since the most recent G7 summit in Canada. The summit in Brussels will also seek to secure progress on EU-NATO cooperation, aiming to produce a second joint statement, following that agreed upon in Warsaw in 2016. After two years of increased EU action to build up strategic autonomy in defence through initiatives such as PESCO and the European Defence Fund, cooperation with NATO is critical when it comes to taking European defence forward.

NATO Summit and European defence [What Think Tanks are thinking]

10-07-2018

NATO heads of state or government will meet in Brussels on 11 and 12 July for a keenly awaited summit. Some analysts and diplomats fear a tense atmosphere, following US President Donald Trump’s tough treatment of European allies at a recent meeting of the G7 group of developed countries, and his imposition of steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU. President Trump is expected to pressure many NATO members to increase their military spending level to the agreed 2 % of GDP guideline ...

NATO heads of state or government will meet in Brussels on 11 and 12 July for a keenly awaited summit. Some analysts and diplomats fear a tense atmosphere, following US President Donald Trump’s tough treatment of European allies at a recent meeting of the G7 group of developed countries, and his imposition of steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU. President Trump is expected to pressure many NATO members to increase their military spending level to the agreed 2 % of GDP guideline, with particular emphasis on Germany. The NATO summit precedes President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 16 July in Helsinki, where some analysts speculate some rapprochement might take place. President Trump’s unpredictability and his widely criticised attitude towards President Putin is causing unease at home and abroad regarding the potential outcome of this summit. This note offers links to commentaries and studies on NATO and European defence by major international think tanks. Earlier papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking', published in December 2017.

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