EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission
NATO Lisbon Summit
Strasbourg, 15 December 2010
The NATO Summit in Lisbon was a great success for NATO and indeed for its Secretary General. I was pleased to have participated in some of the discussions.
I will outline what I see as the important results achieved, focusing in particular on EU-NATO relations. I will not touch on the more internal NATO issues.
In Lisbon, Heads of State and Government agreed on a new strategic concept - a vision for the Alliance for the next 10 years. NATO preserved it’s core tasks of collective defense and deterrence and recognized the importance of crisis management and cooperative security.
Lisbon also paved the way for important decisions for NATO in a number of key areas such as missile defense, cyber defence, NATO reform and NATO's contribution to stabilisation and reconstruction.
In relation to Afghanistan, which we just discussed and which is also an important area of cooperation between the EU and NATO, decisions were taken on both transition and on long term partnership.
I would like to focus on how Lisbon will improve EU-NATO relations. This was also on the agenda of the Defense Ministers meeting which I chaired last week, which was also attended by NATO SG Rasmussen.
NATO is a Key strategic partner for the EU. I welcome the recognition by NATO Heads of State and Government of the important contribution the EU brings to security and stability. I would like to underline the strong political commitment to the strengthening of the EU/NATO strategic partnership expressed by all, especially from President Obama.
I have been very actively engaged with Member States and Allies and the NATO Secretary General in order to reinforce EU-NATO relations. My participation in several NATO high level meetings, including the Foreign Affairs dinner at the NATO Lisbon Summit, which also focused on EU-NATO relations, has been instrumental in this regard.
Earlier this year I took the initiative of sending NATO a set of concrete measures to reinforce EU-NATO cooperation. Many of these measures have already been implemented in the EU - with the support of the SG of NATO. This generated opportunities for informal discussions on issues of common interest, as well as more EU political dialogue with all NATO Allies.
My ambition is to pave the way to even more progress. I received a mandate for that at the 16 September European Council. In Lisbon SG Rasmussen received a similar mandate to work with me on reinforcing EU-NATO relations.
An area of progress: EU-NATO cooperation on capability development
An area where we are already achieving promising results is cooperation on military capability development. This is necessary – for both enhancing military capabilities and maximising cost effectiveness. More than ever we must ensure complementarity and avoid duplication.
On 9 December, EU Ministers of Defence warmly welcomed the progress achieved in strengthening cooperation with NATO. We had already worked together on helicopter’s availability. We have now defined the building blocks on Counter Improvised Explosive Devices and Medical Support. These are both vitally important areas with real operational consequences for our troops serving in the field.
Allow me give you some concrete examples. In the field of helicopters availability we had already two EDA exercises (in France and Spain). Similar exercises are planned for the next four years. In this context we trained 114 crews (over 1300 personnel) with 58 helicopters. As an immediate result, 63 trained crews were deployed in Afghanistan. Another example, this time in the field of countering side bombs, regards the countering Improvised Explosive Devices where the European Defence Agency is in the final phase of purchasing a Forensic laboratory which could be deployed to Afghanistan next year.
We also continued to improve cooperation with NATO through the productive interaction between EDA and the Allied Command for Transformation (ACT).
Overall, my goal remains the development of a true organisation-to-organisation relationship between the EU and NATO.
The meeting of Ministers of Defence last week paved the way to move forward towards that goal.
Pending a wider solution, it is essential that we can count on solid arrangements when the EU and NATO are deployed together in the same theatre. We owe this to our personnel. It is also essential to be able to continue to work effectively to support the Member States and the Allies to develop critical military capabilities, building on the successful work we have launched on Medical Support and Countering Improvised Explosive Devices. This is even more important in the current context of economic crisis.
We will need flexibility of all involved both in NATO and in the EU to allow the NATO SG and myself to find solutions. I will move forward in a concrete and pragmatic way working on the behalf of all the Member States.