European Affairs

The Alliance And The EU Must Work Together More Closely     Print Email
Jamie Shea

We have two processes that are coming together at the right moment. And what we have to do is exploit the synergistic effect of these two developments whose time is suddenly right.

The first development is that we have created a more flexible NATO - a NATO which is going from an organization destined to handle one crisis in one uniform manner to an organization that is handling different operations simultaneously in different ways.

The second development is the aspiration of the European Union countries to make defense and security policy an integral part of the process of the European Union, without which the European Union would not be complete.

Other factors are also making it possible to move ahead. The British are no longer applying the brakes, but have gone up front to the locomotive and are helping to drive the train. The initiative of British Prime Minister Tony Blair removes the excuse of the other Europeans that they sometimes used for not moving forward, which was that it would all be vetoed by the British.

Meanwhile, France has moved much closer to NATO and has participated fully in all NATO operations in Yugoslavia. It has moved structurally closer to NATO, even if the ultimate step of integration has not yet taken place. This makes European Allies less apprehensive that a European Security and Defense Identity would automatically be at the expense of NATO, or would set up a rival organization to it.

Quite the contrary: the move of the UK towards the EU and of France towards the new NATO offers for the first time the perspective of building a European political union while actually strengthening NATO and making it more flexible.

Finally, Germany, is now putting a considerable number of armed forces at the service of peacekeeping missions, which means that the capabilities of the EU's largest member state are now available for the full spectrum of NATO and future European-led operations.

So the question is: How can we create some synthesis out of these developments? We cannot have a European political aspiration to handle security issues or crises frustrated by the unwillingness or inability of NATO to adapt. That, in the long-term, would be destructive and would also prevent the ultimate reintegration of France into the Alliance, which I think is a prize worth pursuing.

But, secondly, neither can we have a Transatlantic partnership constantly frustrated by the inability of Europe to pull its weight in the Alliance or to handle operations in which the United States has no interest or great desire to be involved.

We have come quite far to where we have on the table in the Alliance four different modi operandi, four different options: the first is that we know we can carry out all-NATO operations beyond our borders. Allied Force, our air operation in Yugoslavia, which involved all allied nations but not Partnership for Peace (PfP) Partners or others, is a good example.

Secondly, we know we can do "NATO minus" operations. The French-led Extraction Force, which we had in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for some months to protect the OSCE personnel on the ground in Kosovo, is a case in point. Seven Allies participated in that.

Thirdly, we know we can carry out NATO operations with others, with our PfP partners and even with non-PfP countries, such as Jordan and Morocco. The SFOR force in Bosnia is an example. Over 20 Partners are involved in SFOR. Moreover, six Partner countries were involved in our operations in Albania last Spring, helping with the refugee situation.

Fourthly, although we have not done so yet, we know we have the mechanisms to carry out operations under the direction of the Western European Union, using NATO's assets and capabilities.

What we do not yet have is a fifth option in which the European Union would be able to handle defense operations autonomously as part of the emerging process of European political union. It is equally unclear at the present time what the EU's relationship to NATO should be during the preparation and conduct of such operations, although new security structures will be established within the EU following the EU's Helsinki Summit.

We are close to agreeing on some initial steps to enable the Alliance to support future EU-led military operations. First, the EU will have access to NATO's planning when it needs it, which is very important. Secondly, there will be a presumption that NATO assets will be available to the European Union when it needs them.

Thirdly, NATO will continue in its future full structure to develop specific European command ar-rangements and European force packages, adapting its existing force planning mechanisms for this purpose. And finally, we will work to develop a more structured relationship between NATO and the European Union to be able to handle the transfer of NATO assets and responsibility in a coherent way.

But there are things now which the European Union has to address in the very near future, and where NATO will be looking for clarity in the months ahead. The first thing is: how far does the European Union wish to go in developing specific military structures? If the WEU is to be integrated, as now seems inevitable, into the European Union, would it be integrated completely with its military structures as well, or will there be a kind of division in which the political functions will go to the European Union and some, if not all, of the military functions will go to NATO. In other words, will the European Union try to have autonomous defense capabilities which would give it the ability to handle a mission, totally bypassing NATO? Will it wish to have its own multinational military staffs and planning staffs? Will it wish to have a situation centre and a military analysis function? Will it wish to do its own force planning? Will it wish to undertake its own autonomous intelligence gathering and possess its own satellite observation facilities?

What is going to be the role of the European Commission and the European Parliament? Will they be involved in this process or will they be excluded? Will defense be integrated into EU decision-making as a "communautaire" function or as part of a looser intergovernmental cooperation outside the formal treaty structures?

What will be the role of Turkey and the non-EU NATO Allies? Will these countries' existing links to the European Security and Defense Identity through their current associate membership of the WEU be carried over into the future NATO/EU relationship? How will the desire of Turkey and the non-EU NATO Allies to be involved in planning and decision making and to be able to participate eventually in EU-led operations be reflected?

And what will be the role of the neutral countries? If the WEU is to be absorbed into the European Union, will its Article 5 clause, which is stronger than the NATO clause in terms of the automatic obligation of collective military defense, be transferred into the European Union treaties? Will the neutrals be prepared to accept that or will there continue to be a different system within the EU of those bound by the WEU arrangements and those who are not?

There is, as well, the question of the relationship with NATO. Perhaps the best way to ensure transparency and compatibility between NATO and the European Union, particularly in terms of overcoming different cultures, would be to have a system of "double-hatting" whereby, to the maximum extent possible, NATO ambassadors from European Union countries would also be the ambassadors or representatives in whatever political-military committees would be constructed in the European Union.

In addition, we have to look at the defense capabilities aspect. It is no good to have a top-down approach if there is not simultaneously a bottom-up approach as well. Europe has virtually the same number of forces as the United States, but its spending levels are considerably less than the United States; about $180 billion compared to $240 billion.

We spend the money too much on maintaining large numbers of ground troops for territorial defense purposes and far too little on the types of capabilities that were clearly needed to prevail in Kosovo: stealth technology, precision guided weapons, air to ground surveillance, intelligence, strategic lift and rapid deployment of well-equipped reaction forces.

In fact, our R&D procurement is about a quarter of that of the US on a collective basis. There will be an urgent need to try to rationalize European defense industries to move toward greater specialization and division of labor and to look at mergers of European defense companies.

This is an area where there are the beginnings of consolidation. European defense ministers now meet on these topics, but on the other hand, if one looks at the way that some of the more recent mergers have gone, like British Aerospace or GEC, it is clear that it is not easy to try to persuade defense companies to move in a horizontal rather than vertical direction.

But we have to look for greater efficiency and more at the actual output that we are obtaining for the money we spend. As the new Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson, is fond of saying: "you cannot throw a flow chart at a crisis." The credibility of a European Security and Defense Identity will ultimately be judged according to the capabilities that it can provide - both to the Alliance and to the EU.

Finally, there is also the need for Europeans, while they engage in their internal debates, to try to do more European-led operations. That will test the theory, show where adaptations have to be made and create the climate of confidence among Europeans that, hopefully, will enable them to solve some of the more complex institutional issues. The idea of using the Eurocorps HQ in a NATO operation in Bosnia or Kosovo in the year 2000 is an interesting one in this respect.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number I, Issue number I in the Winter of 2000.

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