NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu Responds to Member Questions
The upcoming European Council summit in December is the first heads of state level summit since 2005 to focus on the issue of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Due to increased instability in the European neighborhood, it is necessary that the EU adopt a proactive approach to their future defense and security mechanisms. On this occasion, Oana Lungescu responds to member questions about EU-NATO relations and the importance of this partnership to European defense.
NATO's Spokesperson Oana Lungescu has responded to seven questions from atlantic-community.org members about the importance of EU-NATO relations to the security of Europe. You can also watch Ms Lungescu's exclusive video statement, which launched this Q&A.
Zebulon Carlander, Student, Sweden: In which areas do you believe the possibility for good cooperation is the greatest between the EU and NATO?
Oana Lungescu: NATO and the EU already do a lot together, and there's tangible added value where we do. Take Afghanistan, where the NATO-led ISAF mission has provided the security needed for the European Union and other international actors to carry out development projects. We have also built up the Afghan army and police to around 350,000, with the European Union mission contributing to efforts to train the Afghan police.
Off the Horn of Africa, both NATO and the EU contribute to the successful international effort to fight piracy. Earlier this year, when the EU High Representative Cathy Ashton helped Belgrade and Pristina to reach an historic agreement, both parties came to NATO Headquarters together asking the Alliance to support the implementation of the accord - which we are doing. KFOR is also working very closely with EULEX on the ground, as seen during the recent election.
Certainly, we can do more together on building defence capabilities to fill real gaps. NATO's Smart Defence and the EU "pooling and sharing" both promote multinational cooperation to make the best of limited resources. NATO's Allied Command Transformation is already working with the European Defence Agency to compare notes and consult, to make sure that our efforts are complementary in providing the critical capabilities we need and that we do not duplicate each other's efforts and do not waste tax-payers' money.
William Rogers Perlmutter, Paris, France, TransAtlantic Masters Program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: Given the institutional re-organization of the EU since the Lisbon Treaty took effect in 2009, which European institution (Commission, European Council, the Council of Ministers, other) and leader has been the most active in NATO-EU discourse?
Oana Lungescu: The Secretary General meets the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy about once every six weeks. He also has regular meetings with the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament. He also enjoys addressing MEPs. For instance on May 6, when he met the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Security and Defence, as well as chairpersons of defence and foreign affairs committees of national parliaments, he called for the December European Council to "showcase a Europe that is both able and willing to act," and to encourage the EU and NATO to do more together. It was quite a lively session, and you can check it out here.
The Secretary General often takes part in meetings of EU foreign and defence ministers, while the EU High Representative is invited to meetings of NATO foreign and defence ministers. She will be taking part for instance at this week's meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the sessions concerning partnerships and Afghanistan. EU leaders also take part in NATO summits, such as the most recent ones in Lisbon and Chicago, while NATO and EU staffs, at different levels, hold regular talks on a wide range of defence and security issues. So practically every day, somebody from NATO meets somebody from the EU to talk about common concerns, whether it's senior officials, policy experts or servicemen and women in the field.
Hristijan Ivanoski, Research Associate, Center for Defence and Security Studies, University of Manitoba: With only two out of eight CSDP military operations having had recourse to NATO assets and capabilities, the Berlin Plus arrangements remain underutilized. After exactly a decade since its adoption can we say that Berlin Plus is dead?
Oana Lungescu: No, Berlin Plus is still with us, although it's not been very prominent. For those who may not remember them, these arrangements were made in 2003 to give the European Union access to NATO's collective assets and capabilities for EU-led operations, including command arrangements and assistance in operational planning. These arrangements were activated and used by the EU for its EUFOR mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Althea, launched in 2004. The operation draws on NATO planning expertise, and the operation's commander is NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander (DSACEUR). By the way, you can read more about the current DSACEUR here.
While it's true that the Berlin Plus arrangements haven't been used a lot over the past years, they remain a vital element of crisis management cooperation between the EU and NATO. But remember that these arrangements were agreed over ten years ago, when NATO had 19 allies and the EU 15 members. A lot has changed since then, and both organisations have evolved in ways that didn't require making recourse to Berlin Plus. Actually, it's fascinating to read the transcript of a press conference from March 2003, and think about how much has changed – but also perhaps what hasn't.
Captain Miha Rijavec (Slovenia Army), student of our member James R. Cricks, Assistant Professor, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Prof. Cricks discussed NATO-EU military structures with his class this month: What is the future of developing the command and control (C2) structure element within the CSDP, if the current Berlin-plus Agreement provides that framework under NATO and gives possibility to use DSACEUR as the commanding figure for the EU led operations?
Oana Lungescu: This is for the EU to decide. The main question is whether it would enhance complementarity between the EU and NATO.
Stanley R. Sloan, retired as Senior Specialist in International Security Policy for the Congressional Research Service. Since then he has taught courses on American power and transatlantic relations at Vermont's Middlebury College: NATO's Strategic Concept lays out the importance of dealing with potential crises before they turn violent, dealing with outbreaks of violence, and then working on peaceful settlement issues. This kind of a comprehensive approach to security issues makes a lot of sense, but the NATO governments have not given the institution the mandate or the instruments to implement the approach. How could more effective NATO-EU cooperation create better conflict management options for the Atlantic Community nations?
Oana Lungescu: I don't entirely agree with the premise of your question. NATO is already implementing the comprehensive approach, working closely with international partners like the EU and the UN. In fact, this year, when the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly, they marked the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on UN/NATO Secretariat Cooperation. This has taken cooperation between the two organisations to a new level, to include training and assessment. We have also deepened practical cooperation in disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military standards, and further expanded dialogue and coordination on operations and areas where NATO and the UN are both involved. Most current NATO operations have UN mandates.
As for the EU, it is a unique and essential strategic partner for NATO, and we are aiming to strengthen this partnership as part of our comprehensive approach. That's why NATO has urged the EU to further develop its security and defence policy, including building up key capabilities which can make Europe stronger, and NATO too.
Oleg Khlopov, PhD in Political Science, Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and World Politics of the Russian State University for the Humanities: You mentioned in your statement that "we (EU and NATO) play different roles but are strategic partners". Would you please specify the difference of these roles?
Oana Lungescu: It is not always a question of different roles, but rather complementary roles. Each organisation is providing its own contribution to the promotion of peace and security. Clearly NATO has a comparative advantage when it comes to hard power, while the EU has a whole range of tools and policies when it comes to soft power. Working together, we can act to complement each other. For instance, KFOR plays a vital role in preserving a safe and secure environment in Kosovo, which has enabled the EU to set up its Rule of Law mission. Similarly, ISAF has created the conditions for the development of Afghanistan, with the support of the whole international community, including the EU.
Jens Anker Jorgensen, Icons of Europe asbl, Belgium: Do you see an opportunity to strengthen both NATO's and the European Union's strategic relationship with Russia? Any new NATO-EU initiative in the pipeline?
Oana Lungescu: There are no new, joint NATO-EU initiatives under discussion at this point. But I think both NATO and the EU share the vision of forging a constructive partnership with Russia. Our vision at NATO is to build a strategic partnership with Russia as a key partner. Over the last few years we have made significant progress in some areas, such as Afghanistan, counter-piracy and counter-terrorism. But there is clearly untapped potential.
The NATO-Russia Council is currently discussing the possibilities of a joint project to dispose safely of excess ammunition in the Kaliningrad region. This would help to lower the risk posed by these highly dangerous supplies, and help to build cooperation and trust. There are many more areas where we have shared interests, so working together more closely can remove some of the misconceptions that are still out there and build more trust. That can only be good for all of us. You can find more information on the work of the NATO-Russia Council here.
And in general, if you want up to date information about what NATO's up to, please check our website, or follow us on twitter on @AndersFoghR, @NATOPress and @NATODepSpox.
The editorial team would like to thank all participants in this Q&A and especially Ms. Lungescu for taking the time to answer them in such detail.
- EU's Litmus Test in the Western Balkans
- It's the State of our Democracy, Stupid! Why Transatlantic Relations are in Trouble
- The Reverse Trump Effect: EU Populist Movements After Trump Took Office
- Smaller and Larger Nations: Concert of Big Powers or Fair Balance of Interests?
- The Trump-Merkel Summit: After the Storm, a Vital Trans-Atlantic Agenda