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Babes Bolyai University Faculty of European Studies

[Seizing the middle ground: EU and NATO]

Geopolitical approach

Student: Kinga Gyorfi Student no.: 202RE Specialty: RISE 3 ENG

Subject: Geopolitics


The existence of a strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union is a necessity for the continuing relevance of the Euro-Atlantic world politics in the XXI century. The reconfiguration of power relations in the international system, especially as a repercussion of the increasing influence of the emerging powers and the tendencies of formation of a multipolar power structure, and the multiplication of risks and challenges of the international securitys environment, has emphasized the necessity of adapting the partnership between NATO and EU to new realities, because it is an essential step for the promotion of common values and interests of the member states of both organizations.1 Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the transatlantic relationship in the context that we are facing a shift of paradigm in global security. The European Union is working with NATO in order to prevent and resolve crises and armed conflicts in Europe and beyond. The two organizations share common strategic interests and are cooperate in a spirit of complementarity and partnership. Beyond the cooperation in various fields, other key priorities for cooperation are intended to ensure that the efforts of capacity development reinforce each other, such as combating terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. NATO attaches great importance to its relationship with the EU. In this respect, a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) can only bring benefits to NATO and can facilitate a more equitable transatlantic security partnership. The close cooperation between NATO and the European Union is a fundamental element for the development of a "comprehensive approach" towards operation and crisis management that requires an effective enforcement of civil and military means. NATO seeks a stronger NATO-EU partnership, not only on the field of action, such as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, where both organizations have deployed capabilities, but also their strategic dialogue at the political headquarters in Brussels. It is important to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, in order to ensure transparency and to respect the autonomy of the two organizations.

Gheorge Savu. Parteneriatul strategic NATO-UE. Rolul capabilitatilor militare, Infosfera, Years 3, No. 1/ 2001

The institutionalized relations between NATO and the EU were launched in 2001, based on the measures taken during the 1990s in order to promote greater European responsibility regarding the field of defence. The political principles underlying the NATO-EU relationship were established in the Declaration on CFSP2 in December 2002. With the expansion of both organizations in 2004, followed by the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union in 2007, NATO and the European Union now have 21 Member States in common. NATO and EU officials meet regularly to discuss issues of common interest. Meetings are held at various levels, inclusively at the level of foreign ministers, ambassadors, military, and defence counsellors. There is a regular contact between the NATO International Staff, the International Military Staff, and the one of the Council of European Union, and the European Defence Agency. Permanent military arrangements have been established in order to facilitate cooperation at the operational level. A NATO permanent liaison team has operated at the EU Military Staff since November 2005 and an EU Cell was established at SHAPE (Strategic Headquarters for NATO operations in Mons, Belgium) in March 2006. An exchange of letters between the Secretary General of NATO and the EU presidency from January 2001 defined the domain of cooperation and the modalities of consultation on security issues between the two organizations. Cooperation has been accelerated both by the signing of the EU-NATO Declaration on ESDP, in December 2002 and the Agreement on Cooperation in March 2003.3

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Common Foreign and Security Policy Centrul de Informare si Documentare privind NATO, [], retrieved at 20th April 2013.

1. The institutional framework of the EU-NATO cooperation

The first efforts to define at an institutional level the cooperation between NATO and the European Union began after the emergence of the European Security and Defence Policy - ESDP, during the EU summit in Helsinki (December 1999), as part of the Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. Thus, the exchange of letters in January 2001 between the Secretary General of NATO and the EU presidency of that time, defined the purpose of the cooperation between the two organizations and the means of consultation on security issues, and the joint NATO-EU Declaration on the European Security and Defence. The latter was adopted in December 2002, and outlined the fundamental political elements of the "strategic partnership" between the two actors: mutual consultations, respect for equality, decision-making autonomy of NATO and the EU and of the interests of the Member States, the coherent and transparent development, and in line with the mutual support of the military capabilities. The document also stated that "NATO remains the cornerstone of the collective defence of its members, while the purpose of ESDP4, - that became the Common Security and Defence Policy CSDP was to "add a package of tools already available to EU crisis management and conflict prevention." Finally, the NATO-EU Declaration regarding ESDP reaffirms the warranty of the Unions access to NATO's planning capabilities to the EU-led missions. This Declaration was completed in 2003 by a package of documents, known as the "Berlin Plus Agreements", which set the framework for cooperation between the two organizations in crisis management issues: according to the provisions of these agreements, when NATO decides not to engage in the management of a certain crisis, the EU can implement this in the conditions that the Alliance provides some resources and capabilities and supports the commanding arrangements and provides assistance in operational planning.5

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European Security and Defence Policy, further referred to it as ESDP Gheorge Savu, op. cit.

2. The politic and strategic dialogue

Developing the strategic partnership implies firstly the deepening of the political and strategic dialogue between NATO and the EU. The intensity of this dialog depends on the commitment, at the highest level (political will), on the development of cooperation between the two organizations, given that 21 states are both NATO and EU members. From this point of view an important role in developing the relationship between NATO and the EU, has the U.S.6 attitude towards the European Union, particularly in the US-EU Partnership. The Obama Administration continues to regard NATO as the main framework for the dialog on the European security problems, but it also demanded increased responsibilities in this regard from the Union.7 Moreover, since the start of the new U.S. administration the Secretary of the Department of State, namely Hillary Clinton, stressed that "the U.S. does not consider the EU a competitor of NATO," by affirming that "a strong Europe is a key partner for the Alliance and for the U.S.". In the same time, according to U.S. officials, the relationship between NATO and the EU must be one characterized by complementarity, given the fact that currently the Alliance does not have the full range of tools needed for crisis management. The attitude of European officials, for instance the European Commissions President, Jose Manuel Barroso, emphasizes that the EU "must think globally and act from a transatlantic perspective", and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, C. Ashton stressed that the EU-US relationship is crucial to the objectives, values and goals shared on the transatlantic level. Despite these attitudes, there is a widespread perception according to which the promising steps taken in the early 2000s have not led yet to a significant expansion of the areas of common action. Therefore the former Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said that the "bandwidth" of cooperation between the two organizations has remained limited, despite the openings made by concentrated approaches of complex crisis situations, such as in Macedonia (2003), Bosnia and Herzegovina (after 2004), Afghanistan (after 2007), Kosovo (after 2008) or those to combat piracy in the north-western Indian Ocean (2008 onwards).

Daniel S. Hamilton, F. Burwell, Shoulder to Shoulder: Forging a Strategic US EU Partnership, Washington D.C.: Atlantic Council of the United States, 2009. 7 Elisabeth Sherwood-Randall, Giving Impetus to the EU-US Agenda, Washington D.C: EU-Washington Forum. European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2010

In turn, the current Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, emphasized in a statement presented in the European Parliament (September 2010), that the two organizations have not been able to create a comprehensive relationship, that would include a wide range of security issues.8 According to him, the causes of such a situation would be generated firstly by the fact that national perceptions regarding the importance of the cooperation between the two actors continue to vary greatly: while some European member states considers that a strategic partnership between NATO and the EU is a strategic priority, others adopted a sceptical attitude based on the belief that a close relationship between the two organizations could compromise their sovereignty or that it could lead to the emergence of a certain hierarchy between NATO and the EU (mainly the EU's subordination in relation to the North Atlantic Alliance). Although the new Strategic Concept of NATO (Lisbon, November 2010) hasnt brought new approaches in the Alliances relationship with the European Union, however the document states that the EU represents for the Alliance "a unique and very important partner." At the same time, "NATO recognizes the importance of stronger and more capable European defence "due to the fact that "an active and effective European Union contributes to the overall security of the EuroAtlantic area."9 The new Strategic Concept confirms that the Alliance aims to develop a strategic partnership with the EU and points out that it would benefit both organizations to initiate actions such as: strengthening the cooperation between the two organizations in the conduct of military operations throughout the crisis spectrum; widening the political dialogue between NATO and the EU by including in the agenda debates related to all the issues of common interest; expanding cooperation related to the development of capabilities (in order to reduce duplication and for the efficient use of the available resources). The fact that the political relations between the two organizations are far from the original expectations and from the real potential, is highlighted in the recent analysis by the academic representatives from the U.S. and Europe. According to them, the relationship between NATO and the EU has been influenced in recent years by the following developments: - Conceptual and institutional reform trends in NATO and in the EU (on one hand, the political and military transformation of NATO, including the development and adoption of the new Strategic

Elisabeth Sherwood-Randall, Giving Impetus to the EU-US Agenda. Washington D.C.: EU-Washington Forum. European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2010. 9 Strategic Concept for the Defense and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2010, p. 9.

Concept, and on the other hand, the debate on the Reform Treaty of the EU and the adoption and implementation of the Lisbon Treaty on EU level); - The diminishing of the U.S. strategic interest towards Europe, fact that could affect the role and the importance of NATO in the U.S. foreign policy10, in the context of the economic power transfer and of influence at the global level, towards the South East Asian region; - The resetting of the U.S. relations with the Russian Federation (which is accompanied also by a reset in the same sense of the relations of some of the most important European countries with Moscow); - The decrease of the political dynamics in the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU, in particular as a result of the international economic and financial crisis and of the transition that was generated by the implementation of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty (e.g. the creation of the European External Action Service or the clarification of the responsibilities in matters of defence and security between the new management positions from the top of the EU, established by the Treaty); - The enhancing trend of bilateral (sometimes trilateral) cooperation in matters of defence, between some of the major European countries to the detriment of multilateral cooperation within the EU; for instance, some experts consider that the two agreements signed between Britain and France in November 2010 - one for setting up of a joint expeditionary force and other regarding the joint development of technologies related to nuclear weapons - reflects not only increased strategic congruence between the two countries and the strengthening of the cooperation between their defence industries in terms of restricting the available financial resources for defence, but also the dissatisfaction of the two states towards the slow pace and lack of effectiveness of the multilateral cooperation within the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. - The progress and developments in the relationship between the EU and Turkey (the difficulties faced by Turkey, as NATO member during the EU accession negotiations, especially as a result of Ankara's position towards Cyprus); in the context of the indivisibility of security, it would be advisable for the EU to avoid the attitude/image that this state is imprisoned (Turkey needs Europe and Europe needs Turkey). 11 It is evident that the acknowledgement of the NATO-EU strategic partnership involves the overcoming of the political difficulties: on one hand, all EU Member States should be able to participate in the mechanisms of cooperation between NATO and the EU, and on the other hand, the

Ivan Krastev i Mark Leonard, Post-European America, The Spectre of a Multipolar Europe , European Council on Foreign Relations, London, 2010, pp. 55-62. 11 Gheorghe Savu, op. cit.

EU would have to strengthen its relations with the NATO members who are not part of the European Union. In this respect, it is considered that it would be useful to evaluate the following proposals: a greater involvement of NATO member states, which are not EU members in the activities of CSDP (for example, the EU could analyse the opportunity of offering a security arrangement that would include Turkey); creating agreements between Turkey and the European Defence Agency; the identification of a scheme of cooperation between NATO and the EU when they are involved in the same theatre of operations.

3. Previous cooperation Operations concerning the Balkan region

An example of fruitful cooperation in security matters between NATO and the European Union is the Ohrid Framework Agreement for the prevention of war in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In February 2001, at the height of the inter-ethnic conflict between national security forces and the armed Albanian insurgents, NATO and the European Union coordinated the negotiations that led to the Ohrid Framework Agreement in the August of the same year. In the same month, NATO launched the Operation Essential Harvest, which lasted 30 days and aimed to disarm ethnic Albanian groups and to destroy the collected weapons. This was followed by Operation Amber Fox, which took place over three months in order to ensure the protection of international observers who oversaw the implementation of the peace agreement in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Therefore, to reduce the danger of backsliding, NATO agreed to continue its support through Operation Allied Harmony, implemented during December 2002 - March 2003, because after than it was taken under the jurisdiction of the European Union. In late March 2003, the European Union launched its first peacekeeping mission, Operation Concordia, which represented also the first implementation of the Berlin Plus agreement. A smaller NATO commandment continued to operate from Skopje to assist the authorities in developing a defence reform and the adaptation to NATO standards. Operation Concordia was upheld by the European Union until December 2003 and was followed by a civilian police mission, Operation Proxima, which continued until the end of 2005.

During Proxima, EU police authorities cooperated with their counterparts in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They also supported the reform of the Macedonian Ministry of Interior and provided assistance for the integrated management of the borders. Another positive example is Bosnia and Herzegovina. In December 2004, NATO ended its operation Implementation Force (IFOR) / Stabilisation Force (SFOR), which lasted nine years. It has been overtaken by the European Union, which immediately initiated Operation Althea, with a staff of 6,000 people. As operations in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe from NATO (DSACEUR) was named Operational Commander, acting under the political guidance and the provided directions of the Political and Security Committee of the European Union (PSC). NATO maintained a modest commandment in Sarajevo in order to assist the authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina in the conduct of the defence reform and with the management of certain operational tasks involving actions of counter-terrorism, and to ensure the detention of the persons accused of war crimes, and in achieving coordination in the field of information with the EU force (EUFOR). While acting under the same mandate as SFOR, EUFOR is different because of its more flexible organization, and due to the fact that fights against organized crime and the links which it has with the national police.12

4. Capabilities

Along with operations, the capacity building is an area where cooperation is essential and where there is potential for further growth. NATO-EU Capacity Group was established in May 2003 to ensure coherence and mutual reinforcement of capacity building efforts of NATO and the EU. This is viable for initiatives such as the EU battle groups developed under the "Headline Goal" for 2010; for the NATO Response Force, and for the efforts of both organizations to improve the availability of helicopters for the operations. In July 2004, after the emergence of the European Defence Agency (EDA) for the coordination of the activities within the European Union on the development of defence capabilities; cooperation in

Adrian Pop, NATO si Uniunea Europeana: Cooperare si Securitate, Revista NATO, [], retrieved at 25th April 2013.

the field of armaments, procurement and research; the EDA experts contribute to the work of the capacity team. In order to enhance the cooperation, both NATO and the European Union should focus on strengthening their key capabilities, on the increase of interoperability and doctrine coordination, on planning, technology, equipment and training. The announcement of full operational achievement of capability of NATO Response Force (NRF), proclaimed at the NATO Summit in 2006 in Riga, marked a major moment of reference. The NATO Rapid Reaction Force is now capable of performing missions worldwide, covering the whole spectrum of operations. Since its inception from 2004, the EU plan to set up national and multinational "Combat Tactics Groups", has become a priority of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Each of these group is composed of 1,500 troops, and two of these arms force packages are now in permanent service, ensuring the European Union with a military capability "ready to act at any time" in order to respond to the crises around the world . However, it is still necessary to put efforts in areas such as civil-military coordination to assure that battle groups will capitalize their potential. Being aware of the potential overlapping between the NRF and the EU Combat Tactics Groups, NATO and the European Union began to cooperate in order to ensure that the two forces can complement each other. However, the current acquisition and investment programs dont correspond to today's multinational forces. The roles of NATO and the EU in this field should be complementary, and the collaboration between the two organizations should be raised to a new level in order to ensure visible results, due to the efficient use of funds. 13

5. Conclusion: Further cooperation

Building on the foundation of the "lessons learned" in the Balkans and taking into consideration that the new theatre is global; the cooperation between the two organizations should be brought to a new level. Recognizing an even more global dimension of international security after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, NATO has irreversibly committed to "out of area" operations, that are beyond his initial Euro-Atlantic centre of gravity. By assuming the leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, NATO opened the way for political dialogue, consultation and partnership with countries

Pop, op. cit.


that are particularly important, situated far beyond the Euro-Atlantic area, including Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. The European Union has also become more and more an international actor, performing military and civilian crisis management, security sector reform, law enforcement and border assistance, both in its immediate neighbourhood and beyond. Geographical areas include the Balkans, the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East - but also very remote places, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Indonesia. The deployment of the EU troops in DRC in mid-2006 underlined the idea that sub-Saharan Africa will constitute a new focal point of the EU security and its external projections. Perhaps the global partnerships will create a culture of security cooperation between the Alliance and other international actors; will reduce misunderstandings and misconceptions and will foster knowledge and will raise awareness of the vital regional conditions in designing effective responses to actual or emerging security threats.14 On the grounds of the expansion of the operational cooperation with global partners that are geographically situated on long distances, the NATO-EU cooperation should become the backbone of a strong Euro-Atlantic community. Yet in the recent past there was sometimes a "beauty contest" between the two organizations - for example, in the case of the NATO-EU cooperation in Darfur, that was held without recourse to the Berlin Plus arrangements. The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, stressed out correctly that all rivalries of this kind and any form of duplication of efforts should end. Instead, there should be a dialogue on harmonizing military transformation and ensuring the existence of a completely austere cooperation in the domain of preventive planning and capabilities; combined with flexible structures for communication. NATO and the EU face similar challenges in a number of areas. An example is Kosovo, where there is clearly much room for complementary policies and also for the creation of new links of cooperation. According to the plan of the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari, the EU will replace the United Nations presence on the grounds of Kosovo, and the NATO-led KFOR operation that is currently promoting peace and stability, could be overtaken by the European Union and an International Civilian Representative (ICR) of the EU will be responsible for the implementation of the agreement on the final status of Kosovo.

NATO, [], retrieved at 1 st May 2013.


Through a new civilian mission under the ESDP umbrella, the European Union will also act in order to consolidate the state of right. Managing Kosovo, a de facto state, will be a significant challenge for the civilian crisis management capabilities of the EU. The result will depend largely on the extent of the mandate to be proposed in a future resolution of the UN Security Council and on the level of commitment of the EU Member States. The wider region of the Black Sea is another area where NATO and the European Union should complement each other. Organizations have common goals in that area - maintaining stability; improve the image and the economic prospects of the region; promotion of the reform in the security sector; reducing arms traffic, drugs and human trafficking; the improvement of the border management and democratization. Currently, however, NATO and the European Union dont have a common strategic vision upon the area of the Black Sea, due to the conceptual differences that are hindering a combined approach. Through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU aims to create a "circle of friends" around its periphery, including region of the Black Sea. In the same way, emphasizing that the region its also a bridge to the energy-rich region of the Caspian Sea, and a barrier to transnational threats, NATO promotes the conception of "bridge / barrier" for this area.. Afghanistan also provides opportunities for an enhanced NATO-EU cooperation. The country has an acute need for more police, judges, and engineers, assistance personnel, development counsellors and staff for the field of administration. All these resources are available for the European Union, but not for the NATO participants in peacekeeping missions. In November 2006, the European Commission approved 10.6 million euro in order to support the delivery of services and a better governance through the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) of NATO. Moreover, the NATO mission in Afghanistan could be supported by an ESDP civilian mission to assist in the rule of law and police training.15


Pop, op. cit.



Hamilton, D. S., Burwell, F. (2009), Shoulder to Shoulder: Forging a Strategic USEU Partnership, Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington D.C. Krastev, I., Leonard, M. (2010) Post-European America, The Spectre of a Multipolar Europe, European Council on Foreign Relations, London, pp. 55-62. Rasmussen, F. A. (2010) Speaking notes for the Joint Meeting of the European Parliaments Committee on Foreign Affairs, Bruxelles. Savu, G. (2001) Parteneriatul strategic NATO-UE. Rolul capabilitatilor militare, Infosfera, 3/1. Sherwood-Randall, E. (2010) Giving Impetus to the EU-US Agenda, EU-Washington Forum. European Union Institute for Security Studies, Washington D.C NATO (2010) Strategic Concept for the Defense and Security of the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, p. 9.

Electronic sources:

NATO, Centrul de Informare si Documentare privind NATO, o [], retrieved at 20th April 2013. NATO, [], retrieved at 1st May 2013. Pop, A., NATO si Uniunea Europeana: Cooperare si Securitate, Revista NATO, [], retrieved at 25th April 2013.