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Volume 4 - Issue 12 December 2014

NATO-EU Cooperation This year has been crucial for NATO and the European Union. Both organizations have elected their new leaders, paving the way for a new era. Jens Stoltenberg has become the new Secretary General of NATO and will have to deal with ongoing crises like Ukraine, as well as make sure the new direction developed during the Wales Summit will be transformed into concrete action. On the EU side, Federica Morgherini replaced Catherine Ashton as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She will have to increase the credibility and visibility of the EU, making the Commission a respected actor that counts on the world stage. The two organizations will have to work together as they are implicated in the same dossiers. The challenge is to offer a common solution, to avoid the duplication of means that serve the same end. Both institutions possess unique and complimentary tools. The EU is a political organization with economic and diplomatic means of pressure, and NATO holds military capabilities. Together, the two alliances hold a powerful combination of soft and hard power. It is up to the new leadership to use these capabilities in the smartest way in order to achieve their common end goals. - Flora Pidoux Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

(Source: )

Contents: The EU-NATO Relationship – With New Leadership To New Impetus? Ms. Andreeva offers a detailed overview of the cooperation between the European Union and NATO, the obstacles to an effective partnership between the two organizations as well as the need for the EU to strengthen its security policies.

The NATO-EU Partnership : Opening A New Chapter After The Ukraine Crisis Ms. Zyga’s article focuses on the impact recent crises, and especially the one in Ukraine, have on the NATO-EU partnership. New threats and challenges demand new forms of cooperation and strategic redefinition. 1

The EU-NATO Relationship – With New Leadership To New Impetus? By Christine Andreeva

a political arrangement to define the areas of coopera-


tion, the technicalities and strategies of both organisa-

he NATO-EU Declaration on European Security and Defence Policy from 2002 asserts that the relationship between

the two organisations should be based on “effective mutual consultation, dialogue, cooperation and trans-

tions in tackling pending security issues, such as the increasingly uncertain relations with Russia, terrorism, non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and general crisis management.

parency” and on “coherent, transparent and mutually

A consolidated EU-NATO relationship would mean

reinforcing development of the military capability

combining military with civilian resources, strategic



thinking with soft power. Together the two organisa-

tions” (NATO, 2002). Instead, the EU-NATO rela-

tions would establish a highly effective security actor,

tionship seems to be one of “unstrategic partners” –

able to tackle any crisis management task that arises,

characterised by “political impasses, inherent incon-

not to mention a global actor with a strong internation-

sistencies, persistent contradictions and underlying

al voice. Attempts to cooperate have been made and

inter-organisational rivalries” (Koops 2010.). The

structures have even been put in place to that end. So

deficiency of consensus and political will among the

what stands in the way? The answer lies in the political

members of both organisations, the insufficiency of

will of the members involved. The fact that most posi-

defence spending and the lack of a clear definition of

tions are not shared by all members and in all situations

the role that each is set to play in the global security

only makes the challenges to more intricate NATO-EU

environment, are among the main factors behind

relations harder. The lack of common strategic thinking

these dynamics. In addition, an EU apprehensive of

between the two entities, albeit more to the detriment

the US driving all defence-related decision-making,

of the EU than NATO, mostly affects the international

and a NATO, whose American leadership and non-

community that is in need of a strong multi-lateral cri-

EU members dread an emancipated European securi-

sis manager.





ty, make for the absence of strategic thinking in collective security today.


The dialogue between the two entities’ governing

The EU-NATO relationship could be broadly divid-

bodies has been omitted on several important occa-

ed into four distinct phases. First, the Cold-War stage

sions and the sharing of capabilities is arguably not a

of relations was a non-existent one – the then-

reality anymore – the non-conclusion of the Berlin

European Coal and Steel Community was limited to

Plus Reverse is merely overshadowed by the fact that

economic cooperation, while defence and military is-

the actual Berlin Plus agreements have not been ap-

sues were a NATO-only prerogative. Second, the post-

plied for a decade. There is an overwhelming need for

Cold-War stage saw attempts of both organisations to

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


adapt to the new geopolitical realities and security chal-

Union Military Committee and Military Staff are

lenges in Europe and its wider neighbourhood. Third

equivalent to the NATO Military Committee and In-

phase was characterized by ambiguity, as what then be-

ternational Military Staff. More importantly however,

came the EU, expressed for the first time ambitions in the

NATO laid the basis of a common military culture in

field of foreign policy and security. Despite the positive

Europe, based on a multilateral cooperation between

development of setting up the Berlin Plus agreements,

participants. The CSDP has since mirrored NATO ac-

the lack of clear definition of the EU-NATO relationship

tivities and procedures, and has applied lessons learned

and, more importantly the lack of delineation of responsi-

from NATO missions. Both have been instrumental in

bilities, caused confusions and duplications, resulting in a

EU’s attempt of emancipation from NATO, which

zero-sum game in terms of power balance between the

reveals the EU’s self-interested approach in this rela-

two (Koops 2010). Similarly,

tionship, arguably in viola-

the shift of the EU away from

tion of its own understand-

NATO and towards the UN as a security actor, contributed to further tension in the relationship. The fourth and ongoing

Together the two organisations would establish a highly effective security actor, able to tackle any crisis management task that arises, not to mention a global actor with a strong international voice.

rity and underlying competition between the EU and




“mutually reinforcing strategic



2010; EU, European Security Strategy, 2003). Even

stage, although seeing more interactions between the two, also suffers from an obscu-

ing of the principle of effec-

more importantly, it shows a lack of strategic thinking on the EU’s part.

NATO. This has been partly due to the attempts on the

The impact the EU has had on NATO is however

part of the EU to emancipate from NATO as a security

more an intangible one. Although NATO has on more

actor, while also owing to the US pivot to Asia and away

than one occasion followed suit to EU initiatives, such

from Europe and NATO. The complex geopolitical de-

as the European Rapid Reaction Force (translated into

velopments of the past decade, including the recently de-

a NATO Response Force) and the EU Commission’s

teriorated relations with Russia, only complicate the sta-

proposal on a Maritime Directive (followed by a

tus quo even further. The NATO-EU relations are more

NATO Maritime Security Strategy), still the most im-

than ever in dire need of a re-definition – the security

portant process to have been duplicated on the part of

tasks in Europe and its strategic areas of interest necessi-

NATO is the Eastern European Enlargement. Being

tate a clear delineation among the security actors con-

entirely beneficial for the development and democratic


transitions to Central and Eastern European Countries,

NATO has had a fundamental effect on the EU. In the infant phase of the EU’s CFSP and CSDP, their institutional setup was partly modelled after the Alliance’s own: the Political and Security Committee of the EU is identi-

it has helped NATO find purpose in the context of existential questions being posed over it – it developed a role of a normative agent in terms of the stabilisation and democratisation of developing countries. (ibid.)

cal to the North Atlantic Council, while the European Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


comprehend. On the EU side, there was the dread of

Berlin Plus The Berlin Plus Agreements, or the Combined Joint Force Mechanism, based on “divisible, but not divided” forces meant that several NATO structures could be staffed with EU personnel to be used for crises where NATO was not involved.

NATO acquiring also a civilian angle to crisis management which would pre-empt the EU’s distinct role as a crisis manager. From NATO’s point of view, such an agreement would establish dependence of the Alliance on CSDP capabilities, albeit civilian ones.

The drawback for the EU was that the first choice remained in NATO’s hands – the Alliance is the

Issues Hampering A Closer “Strategic

first to decide whether it would get involved in a


crisis or not and only in the latter case could the

Lack Of Definition And Delineation Of Re-

EU take action and


use NATO’s capabilities,

Perhaps one of the


most profound un-

military resources,

derlying issues in

thus avoiding un-

the EU-NATO rela-

necessary duplica-

tionship is the in-

tions. Ultimately,

herent lack of defi-

however the EU

nition of both or-

thought to have

ganisations as secu-

developed enough of its CSDP to not need NATO’s as-

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General and Federica Morgherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-

rity actors. Already at the dawn of the

Cold War, NATO’s sistance for all its President of the European Commission meet at the European External Action Summit on raison d’être was beNovember 4th, 2014 (source: NATO) crisis management ing questioned, however in the brink of the interveninitiatives, thus seeing Berlin Plus as an impedition in the Balkan wars it regained some meaning, as ment to its development as a security actor. was the case later with ISAF in Afghanistan. Yet, as One missed opportunity for the EU to impact the last troops are now about to be withdrawn from NATO was in its only area of comparative ad-

the latter, it is time for NATO to find a new purpose

vantage over the Alliance: that of civilian capabili-

to justify its existence in the post-Afghanistan era.

ties and post-conflict reconstruction. The proposal of a Berlin Plus Reverse would have involved precisely what its name suggests – the EU sharing its resources in the realm of civilian crisis management with NATO. The proposal met strong opposition, which, understanding the underlying rivalries between the two entities is not that difficult to Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

Conversely the EU, or rather CSDP, as a relatively infant and inexperienced security actor, suffers not only from overwhelming shortage of military capabilities, but also from a lack of common strategic vision for its existence, mostly due to the heterogenic perceptions and attitudes by its Member States. The long -lasting stalemate of EU-NATO relations is mostly to 4

the detriment of the EU, as it is a relatively new secu-

same attitudes and dynamics are present on EU level

rity provider, composed of undecided partners, many

as well – if anything the Union has been even more

of which still prefer to allocate the bulk of their ef-

ambivalent, conveying often inconsistent messages. In

fort, both in terms of commitment and capabilities,

the context of this crisis, the EU and NATO will need

to NATO, as opposed to the CSDP. That deadlock in

to work closer together and define a common posi-

the EU security structures however, makes the CSDP

tion towards Russia, or else the “strategic partnership”

an unreliable partner, reluctant to take charge in cir-

will indeed be in peril.

cumstances requiring partner-convergence in crisis

More importantly, the lack of delineationin securi-

response. Therefore, the self-determination of CSDP

ty tasks and crisis management undertakings between

might actually come from task allocation talks with

the EU and NATO causes even deeper ambiguity.

NATO. With 22 overlapping members, it would

Both entities pursue almost identical interests and

seem simple and self-evident that the tasks in security

carry out “similar, albeit uncoordinated initia-

provision need to be defined between the two. In-

tives” (Koops 2010). This is on one side a factor for

stead of repeating the same mantra of a “strategic re-

intensive “mutually reinforcing” cooperation, while

lationship”, which is continuously being reflected up-

on the other hand creates the risk of rivalry and re-

on, the two organisations should actually sit together

sulting duplications. Still, geopolitically, the interests

and define that relationship.

of the EU and NATO do not completely overlap –

The unfortunate crisis in Ukraine and deteriorat-

e.g. while it would be difficult to commit European

ing relations with Russia offer only two potential op-

states to interventions outside of the Neighbourhood,

portunities – that of the EU asserting itself as a global

it is hardly difficult to imagine that an EU-led plat-

actor (as the situation is one that very much concerns

form would make a much better interlocutor with

Europe itself); and of NATO reaffirming its raison

MENA countries than a US-led NATO platform.

d’être in its post-Afghanistan era. Instead, the very

It would be easier to attribute to the EU a more

different and non-consolidated positions that the EU

civilian/normative power, while NATO remains re-

and NATO convey only contribute to further ambi-

sponsible for collective defence through hard power.

guity of not only Europe, but also the Western world

Since the two organisations have different goals and

as a side in this dormant conflict. While NATO has

approaches in security and crisis management, it

attempted to be assertive in its position towards Rus-

should be easy to identify the more appropriate chan-

sia, no conclusive position has been articulated –

nel for action in a given crisis, provided that relations

commitment has been expressed towards Central and

are sufficiently well-defined and a clear delineation of

Eastern European Countries, yet no concrete action

responsibilities are put in place. Yet this would be an

has been taken to that end, which offers reason for

ideal, ergo unfeasible scenario, as both the EU and

frustration to those member states. This is partly due

NATO have rather ambitious aspirations for their

to the ambivalent reactions towards Russia expressed

global roles as security providers.

by some of the Western European States, fearing that any decisive reaction, especially the deployment of forces, would escalate the situation excessively. The Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


The EU As A Security Actor?

Though, for the EU to transform into a military actor,

As was pointed out above, the European Union

it would have to establish permanent forces, a military

is still a rather infant global actor. Several futile

academy and official headquarters, for which the

attempts to bring more focus to foreign and securi-

CSDP is not ready at this point in time.

ty policy at EU level have resulted in frustration of

Even further, contributing to the absence of coor-

those looking for further integration in this do-

dinated and sufficiently institutionalised exchange be-

main, which subsequently lead to regional and bi-

tween the two organisations is the nonexistence of a

lateral deals on defence throughout Europe (e.g.

congregated European voice in foreign relations.

the Franco-British military cooperation, the Nor-

While in other international organisations the EU is

dic Defence Cooperation, defence cooperation in

represented by the converged and convincing voice of

Working Together for Peace and Security— International Organizations Membership Overlap (Source: NATO)

the Visegrad group, etc.). Yet, what is considerably worse is that the EU suffers an overwhelming expectations-capability gap, which makes the Union seem less and less as an adequate and reliable security actor. The EU should rather reconsider its role in crisis management and focus on civilian and civ-mil missions, while building up capabilities.

the Commission, this is not the case with NATO. Even with the overlap of 22 members between the two entities, those members have not yet managed to consolidate their positions and preferences on the way to handle security and defence issues, causing inconsistencies in their positions expressed not only in the framework of the EU and NATO themselves, but also internationally. Hence, the proposals of establishing a

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


European pillar in NATO have been strongly opposed

the American leadership of NATO is less and less a

not only by the US, but also indeed by several EU

relevant concept, as the US has become uninterested

member states. Such an initiative being materialised

in being involved in conflicts in the European Neigh-

would not only mean that there would be a stronger

bourhood and the Middle East.

European influence on NATO activities, certainly to

Heterogeneity Of Positions And Lack Of Com-

the detriment of non-EU NATO members (thus vio-

mon Threat Perception

lating the third of the three D’s – non-discrimination of such members), but it would also pose an existentialist question over NATO. (Koops 2010) The claims made by the new leadership of more focused and strategic thinking in foreign and security policy is nothing unheard of in the past decade, yet

When it comes to the appropriateness of channels of security provision, the heterogeneity of opinions among the overlapping members of the two entities is largely the cause for inconsistencies in the positions and activities of both organisations. To further complicate matters, there is no shared perception of

one might argue that now is the time for the EU to

threats, which makes it close to impossible to reach

start pulling its own weight in terms of defence in its

consensus on common action in the unanimity-based

neighbourhood, which should involve a clearer and

decision-making bodies of both organisations. An

more effective cooperation with NATO. Alternatively, if these claims turn into empty promises with no

overarching definition of a common threat must be defined at both EU and NATO levels, as the under-

real effect, it might be that the Union becomes

standings of such are widely divergent across member

trapped in its image of being nothing but an economic


entity. Balancing Out American NATO Leadership And European Global Governance Ambitions

Low Defence Spending And Lack Of Pooling And Sharing/Smart Defence On both EU and NATO turf there is significant

The attempted emancipation of EU’s security ac-

shortage of military and defence spending. The only

tivities from NATO was one of the unspoken factors

NATO members to spend above 2% of GDP on the

that contributed to the tensions between the two or-

Alliance’s defence are the US, the UK, Greece and

ganisations. Even though the CSDP formation was largely influenced by the US in an attempt to push Europe into pulling its own weight in terms of security of the continent, the actual EU initiatives to build its own capabilities and image as a defence and military actor were hardly appreciated in Washington.

Estonia, while the situation is even more discouraging on the EU level. What further deteriorates the situation is the lack of political will to share resources through Pooling and Sharing (in EU jargon) or Smart Defence (in NATO terms). Several member states of both organi-

From the EU’s point of view, however, delegating

sations perceive such close cooperation as giving up

all security tasks to a US-led NATO is hardly ideal –

control over military capabilities and having no say in

this was arguably the main reason for establishing the

the approach to various crises. The inability to consol-

CSDP. Nonetheless, with the US pivoting to strategic

idate the European defence industry and to a degree

interests in the Asia-Pacific and away from Europe, Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

the European armed forces, combined with continued 7

low defence spending, will in time damage the Euro-

might be made that Turkey should be entitled to some

pean technological and military base to such an extent

form of membership to the EDA, as it took part of the

that it would no longer be competitive in global

structures of the Western European Union, including

terms. (Dempsey 2014)

the Western European Armaments Group – WEAG,

Another problem that arises in this context is duplication. While NATO has much more military re-

which was eventually transformed into the EDA , thus leaving Turkey out of the structures.

sources, the EU has a comparable advantage in civilian capabilities, which should provide a perfect setting for

Recommendations And Prospects

successful cooperation, it has happened that both or-

Should the EU and NATO decide to move forward

ganisations operate within the same crisis, yet para-

with their relationship and face global challenges

doxically instead of coordinating their activities, they

through a comprehensive approach, they will have to

duplicated in some and left other uncovered (i.e.

consider a renewal of the commitments made under

AMIS Darfur/ EUFOR Chad).

Berlin Plus – if the EU was to assume leadership of

If the EU NATO member states could collectively

any large military mission, it would need to have

come up with at least some 40% of NATO defence

more military and intelligence resources at disposal.

spending, then that would at least partly alleviate

Alternatively, the two platforms may decide to allo-

American frustrations over continuously being the

cate tasks , the EU covering civilian, assistance, train-

ones to cover the bulk of the expenses in interven-

ing and border control operations, while NATO re-

tions and crisis management. It would also grant Eu-

serves the exclusive right to intervene in any large

ropeans the right to dictate more assertively NATO’s

military operations agreed upon by the partners.

strategic interests, thus rendering them more autono-

It has become clear that the US is no longer inter-

mous in security terms and not less as is the common

ested in maintaining the security of Europe’s Neigh-


bourhood, meaning that either through its EU-based

Cyprus Issue

organisation, the CSDP, or through cooperation with

The unsettled issues and tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over the latter’s occupation of Northern Cyprus have been hampering effective EU-NATO high level consultations for more than a decade. Cyprus vetoes Turkey’s participation in the European Defence Agency (EDA) and other EU defence structures, while Turkey responds by hindering Cyprus’ use of NATO facilities and its participation in the Partnership for Peace (PFP). As a consequence, highlevel meetings between the EU and NATO on PSCNAC level are being obstructed. In fact, an argument

its international partners, Europe will have to find a way to take care of its own Neighbourhood. This will require a hands-on approach, and in the face of a multitude of issues and crises in the East and South, it will also require a stronger security and defence focus, through allocating increased budgetary resources to defence and military capabilities. The perception of security and defence in Europe needs to be reformed – rather than perceiving a strong defence policy as the first step to warfare, Europeans should realize that in the face of growing insecurity on the international scene, it is only smart to step up and make sure that

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


the continent is completely prepared for any scenario that

situation is indeed determined to represent a common

might be; even if it is simply for the sake of deterrence.

threat (Dempsey 2014).

On a more technical note, it seems like granting Tur-

On the EU side, at this point, there are two feasible

key some form of EDA membership, even with condi-

scenarios for the advancement of defence coordination.

tions, might alleviate the political tension in the Greece-

If NATO develops more as a global organisation, thus

Cyprus-Turkey triangle which currently renders common

engaging a number of countries outside Europe and

EU-NATO endeavours, to a large degree, unproductive.

North America, who share the same values of democ-

Furthermore, the election of Cypriot President Nicos

racy and peacekeeping, there could indeed be a Euro-

Anastasiades may make the Cypriot reunification cause

pean pillar established, which would allow for a more

somewhat more attainable (Engelen 2014). Although it is

consolidated position coming from those countries.

certainly not the only impediment before effective EU-

Alternatively, through Permanent Structured Coopera-

NATO cooperation, it would most definitely remove

tion, or another security platform, the fast-track EU

another barrier to formal political consultation between

countries in the field of defence, could cooperate to

the two entities.

the end of developing common capabilities so that they can tackle security challeng-

Reportedly the EU and NATO coordinate relatively well on a technical level on the ground, which would imply that the “strategic partnership” is more difficult on a political and strategic level than it is in practice. It seems logical then

It has become clear that the US is no longer interested in maintaining the security of Europe’s Neighbourhood, meaning that either through its EU-based organisation, the CSDP, or through cooperation with its international partners, Europe will have to find a way to take care of its own Neighbourhood.

on paper for the clearer cooperation between the two security actors. The search for a post-Afghanistan narrative for NATO will become all the more challenging the longer it lasts and will be all the more costly to NATO’s relevance as a global actor. Arguably, the Ukraine crisis has not redefined NATO’s raison d’être, due to the failure in addressing Russia unanimously and convincingly. The Alliance needs to re-establish a sense of solidarity and consensus across its members, which should begin from the clear definition of a common threat perception, to be complemented by situation and capability analysis whenever a Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

over-relying on or duplicating NATO tasks, albeit still remaining at the Alliance’s disposal for joint action. That would, however, create a multi-track Europe in the field of defence, which

that a clear definition and delineation of responsibilities needs to be elaborated at least

es independently, without

will contribute to deepening divisions and tensions between member states. The two organisations are in dire need of new strategic leadership to provide them with a new vision and sense of commitment. Recently, as there has been change of leadership in both EU and NATO, a number of bilateral meetings have already been carried out between the two leaders with promises of further cooperation in the context of the increasingly complicated security environment in Europe and the wider neighbourhood. Only time will tell if those promises are to be realized, but as the EU’s new High Representative has expressed the ambition to undertake a different 9

approach in the field of foreign and security policies, altogether with a new view on Neighbourhood policy (including the drafting of a new European Security Strategy by June 2015), it seems like now is the time for the organisations to define their approach towards each other.

Conclusion NATO and the CSDP need to complement each other in the circumstances of growing insecurity, es-

About the author Christine Andreeva concluded a Master’s Degree on European Integration and Development with the Institute for European Studies (in cooperation with Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Ms Andreeva’s interests lie in the field of the EU’s external relations, with a particular focus on European defence and she has contributed several articles to this domain. Ms Andreeva has completed two internships at the European institutions and is currently working at the office of Mr. Georgi Pirinski, MEP.

pecially in the European Neighbourhood. The argument of a zero-sum relationship between the two has no substance to it, as they each have what the other one needs. With the US gradually becoming disenchanted with NATO engagement, it follows that the organisation will lose in strategic leadership, and its geopolitical interests might lose clarity and focus. The EU, through its defence platform CSDP, has in fact the opposite – the areas of interest are largely clear to all partners, and the steps to undertake for further strengthening the platform are mostly clear, yet there is an overwhelming lack of political will and more importantly a colossal shortage of military capabilities - something that is much less manifested in NATO. The repetitive resort to coalitions of the willing in the presence of two self-declared security actors is a very negative signal of the state of collective security in Europe and its allies. The lack of political will to reach consensus on most pressing and strategic issues conveys a message of disunity and implies the fragility of international commitments, which might even come to be redundant if these attitudes were to continue. It appears that the “mutually reinforcing” relationship between NATO and the EU is more a challenge than a given, yet both entities need to be up to the task, especially when Europe’s security is at stake. Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

Bibliography Cirakli, M 2014, ‘EU-NATO Relations: Quo Vadis?’, UACES, Ideas on Europe Platform ; viewed 02 December, http:// . Daadler, I 2014, ‘How the three past ages of NATO add up to its future’, Europe’s World, Autumn 2014 Issue. Dempsey, J 2014, ‘Why Defense Matters: A new Narrative for NATO’, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, viewed 29 November 2014, http:// Duke, S 2008, ‘The Future of EU-NATO Relations: a case of Mutual Irrelevance Through Competition?’, Journal of European Integration, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 27 – 43. Engelen, K 2014, ‘The Reunification of Cyprus and its Influence on NATO-EU Relations’, June, viewed 23 November 2014, database, https:// The_Reunification_of_Cyprus_and_its_Influence_on_NA TO_EU_Relations European Commission 2003, A Secure Europe in a Better World – European Security Strategy, no. 78367, 20 December 2003, viewed 20 November 2014, http:// cmsUpload/78367.pdf Koops, J 2010, ‘Unstrateigc Partners: NATO’s relations with the European Union’, in: W Kremp and Berthold Meyer (eds.), Entangling Alliance: 60 Jahre NATO. Geschichte, Gegenwart, Zukunft, Trier: Wissenschaftsverlag, pp. 41 – 78 Kamp, K-H 2013, ‘NATO-EU Cooperation – Forget it!’, Carnegie Europe, 30 October, viewed 23 November 2014, NATO 2002, EU-NATO Declaration on ESDP, 16 December 2002, viewed 29 November 2014, cps/en/natolive/official_texts_19544.htm Ricci, M 2014, ‘The CSDP and NATO, friends, competitors or both?’, Nouvelle Europe [en ligne], 17 January 2014, viewed 29 November 2014, 10

The NATO-EU Partnership : Opening A New Chapter After The Ukraine Crisis By Ioanna-Nikoletta Zyga


fficial texts and communiqués describe

bers, and we also share common challenges. To the East, and to the South”.

the EU-NATO relationship as a genuine

In practice, NATO and the EU do work together

strategic partnership. Allied Heads of

on issues of common interest; they hold political con-

State and Government reaffirmed the EU’s importance as

sultations, cooperate in the Balkans and Afghanistan as

a partner for NATO at the Alliance’s recent Wales Sum-

well as on capabilities through their Smart Defense and

mit and underlined that “The two organizations share

Pooling and Sharing initiatives, and they are fighting

common values and strategic interests. In a spirit of full

piracy off the coast of the African Horn. However,

mutual openness, transparency, complementarity, and

despite the rhetoric of cooperation and the practical

respect for the autonomy and institutional integrity of

achievements, the EU-NATO partnership has not

both NATO and the EU, and as agreed by the two organi-

reached its full potential.

zations, we will continue to work side-by-side in crisis

Recent security developments, particularly the bla-

management operations, broaden political consultations,

tant invasion of Ukraine, the prolonged civil war in

and promote complementarity of the two organizations

Syria and now the terror threat of ISIS in Iraq (and be-

to enhance common security and stability.” In Wales,

yond) demonstrate the need for stronger cooperation

NATO leaders also recognized that the current strategic

between NATO and the EU. The Ukraine crisis, in

environment has highlighted the need for further

particular, has brought security to the forefront of the

strengthening strategic partnership between NATO and

strategic discussion both for NATO and the EU. It

the EU For their part, at the Defense Council of Decem-

marked NATO’s return to its roots, that is to say the

ber 2013, EU Leaders agreed that “the Common Security

renewed centrality of Article 5 and Collective Defense

and Defence Policy (CSDP) will continue to develop in

over its other two core tasks, cooperative security and

full complementarity with NATO in the agreed frame-

crisis management. The crisis also brought violent con-

work of the strategic partnership between the EU and

flict right into EU’s backyard and forced the EU to re-

NATO and in compliance with the decision-making au-

assess its policies.

tonomy and procedures of each.” Not long after assuming

These developments have once again underscored

their posts, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

the mission and purpose of NATO and the EU. Simul-

and EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security

taneously, they are also evidence of the effects of leav-

Policy Federica Morgherini noted the importance of the

ing a leadership vacuum in addressing global conflicts

NATO-EU partnership at a joint press point in early No-

and they underscore the need for strong transatlantic

vember. In the words of NATO’s new Secretary General,

cooperation as the world continues to look to the West

“The EU is an essential and a strong partner of NATO.

for leadership in addressing global concerns. In today’s

We share the same values, we share many common mem-

security landscape, strengthening cooperation be-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


tween NATO and the EU is a strategic imperative.

marked by the crisis in Ukraine, in light of which, reinforcing EU-NATO ties has gained new urgency. The Ukraine crisis constitutes the most serious shock

Why Work Together? There are compelling reasons for NATO and the

to the European security system since the end of the

EU to work more closely. First, member states of the

Cold War took place. Russia’s annexation of Crimea

two institutions face the same threats. The EU’s Eu-

signaled a shift away from the fundamental premise

ropean Security Strategy and NATO’s Strategic Con-

upon which Euro-Atlantic security has been based.

cept identify a strikingly similar threat of security

The West no longer sees Russia as a partner. Rather,

challenges. Second, today, and following subsequent

Russia is viewed as a potential adversary. Russia’s ac-

enlargement rounds from both NATO and the EU,

tions in Ukraine pose a challenge to European securi-

the membership overlap of NATO and the EU is sig-

ty, to the vision of a Europe “whole, free and at

nificant; both institutions seek to safeguard the securi-

peace” and to the global order. NATO allies and EU

ty interests of 22 common member states. Third, the

member states remain committed to this vision. So

rapidly changing security environment calls for great-

far, the two institutions have managed to take a uni-

er cooperation between the EU and NATO. The new

fied stance vis-à-vis Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Acting in unison with

challenges are diverse, unpredictable, and interconnected. Security threats such as global terrorism and Is-

Russia’s actions in Ukraine pose a challenge to European security, to the vision of a Europe “whole, free and at peace” and to the global order.

lamic extremism, cyber warfare, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,

each other is required not only in the face of ongoing pressure from Russia (and ISIS), but in order to

effectively manage future crises as well.

problems related to energy security, climate change,

The declining defense budgets across Europe due

illegal movements of capital, and maritime piracy-

to the financial crisis should also be added to the list of

challenges that were once labeled emerging- are today

reasons favoring cooperation between the two institu-

part and parcel of our security landscape. Further, the

tions. Stagnating or shrinking defense budgets dictate

nature of combat has changed. Hybrid warfare is in-

for greater cooperation and avoidance of unnecessary

creasing, as exemplified by Russia’s use of the “little

duplication efforts. Member states of NATO and the

green men” in Ukraine. These wide-ranging challeng-

EU cannot afford to waste precious resources on

es are difficult to counter with traditional military

overlapping responsibilities.

strategy. A comprehensive approach -a civil-military

Finally, the fact that the United States is refocusing

approach- to tackle them is necessary. In the words of

its foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region at a

former NATO Secretary General, Jaap De Hoop

time when the EU is encircled by crises should also

Scheffer, “There is no stronger civil player than the

serve as incentive for closer cooperation. The US re-

European Union. And there is no stronger military

balancing has sparked calls from both the US and Eu-

alliance than NATO”.

ropean countries for Europe to start paying more at-

What is more, the challenging security context in

tention to its security and defense needs, and rightful-

which the two institutions operate is at present

ly so. The operations in Mali and Libya exposed sig-

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


nificant shortfalls in a range of European capabilities and

have. Simultaneously, neutral member states of the EU

highlighted the limits of Europe's military power. The EU

continue to be wary of close co-operation between the

should take its own security in its own hands. An EU that

EU and NATO.

is stronger militarily would certainly be beneficial for

Dividing lines among EU member states with regards to the role the EU should play in foreign and se-

NATO as U.S. political priorities have changed. Undoubtedly, closer cooperation between NATO and

curity policy also create problems in the NATO-EU

the EU is more needed than ever. The two institutions

relationship. Some EU nations view the EU-NATO

should capitalize on the current momentum created by

partnership as a zero sum game. Atlanticist countries

security developments in their strategic landscape and

within the EU are strong advocates of a strong NATO,

strengthen the quality of their relations. The recent

and view the development of the CSDP with skepti-

change of leadership in NATO and the EU also provides

cism as they fear that the CSDP will weaken NATO

new impetus for cooperation over European security be-

and the transatlantic bond it represents. Others argue

tween the two. Europe’s newly elected President of the

that the EU needs to stop being a “military worm” and

European Council, Donald Tusk, is an Atlanticist and be-

serve as a credible security provider for its member

lieves in EU integration, especially for security reasons.

states. Further, some European member countries see

New NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has

NATO as a US dominated institution which is used to

stressed the need for increased collaboration right from

serve American interests which are not always aligned

the beginning of his tenure, stating that he will personally

with European ones. As such, these member states

“strive for an even closer cooperation between NATO

want the EU to develop an independent military arm

and the European Union” especially as they cover much of

and a more autonomous defense identity.

the “same geographical area.” For her part, the new EU

The fact that the CSDP itself constitutes a work in

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Poli-

progress, as EU member states have different security

cy Federica Morgherini has also signaled her intention for

goals, different geographic focuses, different percep-

closer EU-NATO ties by stating that “cooperation should

tions of whether EU needs a stronger military arm or

improve” at a press conference right on her second day in

not, different approaches to the use of force has also

office. The political will seems to be there.

had an impact on the development of EU-NATO ties. Finally, inter-institutional competition is also per-

Obstacles To Demonstrating The Partnership’s

ceived as an obstacle to improving relations between

Full Potential

the two institutions. According to this argument, the

The participation problem is probably cited by analysts

EU considers itself a superior institution whose mem-

as the single largest obstacle for closer relations between

bers genuinely invest in integration and represents the

NATO and the EU, such as the example of Turkey who

future while NATO is seen as being a relic of the past.

blocks the admission of Cyprus into NATO. Furthermore, differing memberships of NATO and

The Road Ahead

the EU also hamper cooperation between the two organi-

In order for NATO and the EU to achieve the stra

zations, mostly in practical terms, such as the exchange of

tegic partnership the 21st century needs, the two insti-


tutions need to work on a new roadmap for coopera-




Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12




tion. NATO and the EU could start with a joint

Yet, in today’s unpredictable security environment

review to identify common threats and set their

where security challenges transcend geography

level of ambition regarding cooperation in mutu-

NATO cannot afford to become inward-focused.

ally agreed areas. After that, the two organizations

NATO must be adaptive to the evolving security envi-

should proceed with identifying those areas where

ronment, and this can only be accomplished by work-

they offer complementary institutional skill sets.

ing with and engaging partner countries to counter

This requires a frank review of capabilities,

new and diverse threats. In addition to increasing co-

wherein each organization is willing to engage in

operative security, NATO should not shy away from

an open discussion about their respective

preparing to confront the next crisis. The Alliance has

strengths and weaknesses. This in turn will ensure

both the means and institutional knowledge to re-

that the strengths of each institution will be opti-

spond effectively in a crisis. Both of these capabilities

mized for a comprehensive approach to security

must continue to be cultivated, with increased train-

and defense cooperation, capitalizing on the

ing, planning, and cooperation.

unique political, civil, and military capabilities of the two.

Particularly in light of the crisis in Ukraine, the EU and NATO should increase political consultations re-

A comprehensive strategic dialogue regarding

garding recent developments in the post-Soviet space,

the threats and challenges facing the two institu-

a region of strategic uncertainty. As Russia is pursuing

tions today is also very much needed. A step to

post-Soviet integration in Eurasia, other countries,

achieve this would be through strengthening the

particularly those of South Caucasus and Central Asia

links between the EU’s Situation Center and

might be used as power play between the two sides.

NATO’s Situation Center. NATO and the EU

These countries are vulnerable to Russia’s manipula-

should also work together on monitoring and as-

tion who wants to regain predominance over the for-

sessing strategic security developments and infor-

mer Soviet space through means like military pres-

mation sharing to raise strategic awareness on is-

ence and manipulation of ethnic conflicts. The EU and

sues such as cyber security, energy security and

NATO could devise a concerted approach vis-à-vis


the region to shape the future orientation of these

Prior to that, and at a time when destabiliza-

countries and help them build resilience against po-

tion hovers around Europe’s periphery, the EU

tential hybrid warfare with an emphasis on security

should update its Security Strategy of 2003 to take

sector reforms.

into account recent strategic developments and

In the operational domain, NATO and the EU al-

risks, identify its strategic objectives and priori-

ready closely cooperate in maritime operations off the

ties, formulate its strategic vision and set its level

Gulf of Aden. EU Atalanta and NATO Ocean Shield

of ambition as a security provider. For its part,

operate side by side, which allows for the develop-

NATO must find the right balance between its

ment of a strategic culture between the two institu-

three core tasks: At Wales, Allied leaders agreed

tions. Both NATO and the EU will continue to be

that NATO will in part shift its attention to terri-

actively involved in this domain for the foreseeable

torial defense in response to the Ukraine crisis.

future, and strengthening cooperation in the field of

Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12

planning and training is required.


When it comes to capabilities, more coordination

NATO and the EU. It is now time to harness the two

on policy planning and capability development is nec-

institutions’ relative strengths in a pragmatic way to

essary. In the area of rapid Reaction Force Planning,

address the security challenges facing their members.

joint exercises to develop interoperability and constructive cooperation between EU battle groups and NATO’s Response Force should take place.

About the author


Ioanna-Nikoletta Zyga works as a foreign policy

The crisis in Ukraine greatly demonstrates the fra-

advisor at the European Parliament. She has previou-

gility and volatility of today’s strategic landscape in

sly worked at the Cooperation and Regional Security

which threats increase in number and complexity,

Division of NATO's International Military Staff

asymmetric challenges emerge and the risk of symmetric threats is growing. At the same time, the developments in Ukraine pose a fundamental challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe and bring the change of borders by force and territorial conflict back to Europe. Enhanced trans-Atlantic security cooperation is requisite to tackle today’s challenges which can emerge not only from our increasingly insecure and unstable neighborhood but also stem from beyond NATO’s or EU’s borders. In the security environment of the 21st century just military forces do not suffice. The case for a comprehensive approach, a combination of all relevant military and civilian assets is now stronger than ever. In this ever-changing world, the transatlantic relationship constitutes a source of stability and deepened security cooperation is critical if the West is to maintain the ability to be both reactive and proactive in responding to global threats. The EU and NATO represent two sides of the same strategic coin and the developments in Ukraine should serve as a catalyst for the two organizations to strengthen their cooperation.

Bibliography NATO, “Active Engagement, Modern Defence. Strategic concept for the Defence and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” 19-20 November 2010, Strat_Concept_web_en.pdf, 28. NATO, “Wales Summit Declaration Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales,” 5 September 2014, official_texts_112964.htm?mode=pressrelease. European Council, European Council Conclusions, 18 September 2013, ) uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/140214.pdf, 2. NATO, Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg upon arrival at European Union Foreign Affairs Council, 18 November 2014, http:// NATO, NATO Secretary General, Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, “NATO and the EU: Time for a New Chapter,” 29 January 2007, s070129b.html. NATO, “Press conference by incoming NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,” 2 October 2014, http:// selectedLocale=en. Andrew Rettman, “Who is Tusk and what does he mean for the EU,” institutional/125427, EU observer, 01 September 2014. EEAS, “Remarks by High Representative Federica Mogherini following her meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg,” 5 November 2014, http://

In an era of tight defence budgets, an arc of uncertainty and instability in our neighborhood and the challenge posed by a newly assertive Russia, there is new impetus for stronger cooperation between Atlantic Voices, Volume 4, Issue 12


ATA Programs On December 1st, the Atlantic Treaty Association held their 60th General Assembly. During the Board Meeting, which gathered represent-

Atlantic Voices is the monthly publication of the Atlantic Treaty Association. It aims to inform the debate on key issues that affect the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its goals and its future. The work published in Atlantic Voices is written by young professionals and researchers.

atives from 23 national chapters, a new board was elected. Fabrizio Luci-

The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an international non-

olli has been elected President of the ATA, replacing Dr. Lamers after 6

governmental organization based in Brussels working to facilitate global

years of services. Mr. Jason Wiseman was formally elected as Secretary

networks and the sharing of knowledge on transatlantic cooperation and

General. Ms. Kate Hanson Bundt, Mr. Arnold Kammel and Artur Jorge

security. By convening political, diplomatic and military leaders with

Girao have all been chosen to be Vice-Presidents alongside Mr. Frøling

academics, media representatives and young professionals, the ATA promotes

and Adm. Rosiers.

the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty: Democracy, Freedom,

The ATA would like to thank Dr. Lamers, Ms. Lindhout and Amb. Elenovski for their dedication to the Atlantic Treaty Association.

Liberty, Peace, Security and Rule of Law. The ATA membership extends to 37 countries from North America to the Caucasus throughout Europe. In 1996, the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) was created to specifially include to the successor generation in our work. Since 1954, the ATA has advanced the public’s knowledge and understanding of the importance of joint efforts to transatlantic security through its international programs, such as the Central and South Eastern European Security Forum, the Ukraine Dialogue and its Educational Platform.

Once again this year, the Norwegian ATA chapter, The Norwe-

In 2011, the ATA adopted a new set of strategic goals that reflects the

gian Atlantic Committee Atlanterhavskomite will hold their 50th Annual

constantly evolving dynamics of international cooperation. These goals include:

Security Conference, the Leangkollen Conference. This two-day event

will take place at the beginning of February in Oslo. The conference will begin at the prestigious Norwegian Nobel Institute.

the establishment of new and competitive programs on international security issues.

the development of research initiatives and security-related events for its members.

Atlantic Voices is always seeking new material. If you are a young researcher, subject expert or professional and feel you have a valuable contribution to make to the debate, then please get in touch. We are looking for papers, essays, and book reviews on issues of importance to the NATO Alliance. For details of how to submit your work please see our website. Further enquiries can also be directed to the ATA Secretariat at the address listed below. Editor: Flora Pidoux

Images should not be reproduced without permission from sources listed, and remain the sole property of those sources. Unless otherwise stated, all images are the property of NATO.

the expansion of ATA’s international network of experts to countries in Northern Africa and Asia. The ATA is realizing these goals through new programs, more policy

activism and greater emphasis on joint research initiatives. These programs will also aid in the establishment of a network of international policy experts and professionals engaged in a dialogue with NATO.

The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Atlantic Treaty Association, its members, affiliates or staff.

This publication is co-sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Atlantic Voices Vol 4, No 12 (December 2014)  

NATO -EU Cooperation

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