Secretary General’s speaking notes for the Joint Meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)

European Parliament - Brussels

  • 28 Sep. 2010
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  • Last updated: 07 Oct. 2010 14:10

Je suis particulièrement heureux d'être de nouveau ici au Parlement européen et de pouvoir m'adresser à la fois aux membres du Parlement européen ainsi qu’à des membres des Parlements nationaux.

Je souhaitais venir ici pour m'entretenir avec vous et vous demander de soutenir mon ambition de renforcer la coopération entre l'Union Européenne et l'OTAN de manière significative.

Ces quinze à vingt dernières années, l'OTAN et l'Union européenne ont connu des changements profonds, l'Union européenne tout dernièrement avec le Traité de Lisbonne. L'Union européenne est aujourd'hui un acteur multi-disciplinaire reconnu sur la scène internationale, y compris pour les questions de défense, car elle conduit plusieurs missions civiles et opérations militaires sur divers théâtres extérieurs. Une interaction plus étroite entre l'Union européenne et l'Alliance est donc devenue une nécessité stratégique.

Je voudrais tout d'abord dire quelques mots au sujet de l'organisation que j'ai le privilège de diriger. L'OTAN d'aujourd'hui est très différente de l'Alliance de la Guerre froide. Mais bien sûr, les principes fondamentaux n'ont pas changé : une alliance transatlantique, un engagement ferme pour une défense mutuelle contre toute attaque, et un attachement de tous les pays membres aux valeurs que nous chérissons.

L'adoption d'un nouveau Concept stratégique au sommet de l'OTAN que nous tiendrons en novembre à Lisbonne marquera une étape importante dans l'adaptation de l'Alliance. Ce nouveau Concept stratégique sera notre vision et notre guide pour la prochaine décennie et fixera le cap à suivre pour renforcer et redynamiser l'Alliance. Il énoncera une stratégie pour l'OTAN, qui soit à la fois réalisable et durable. À ce propos, j'ai soumis hier mon projet de texte aux Alliés membres de l’OTAN. Les Alliés en négocieront le texte final au cours des semaines à venir. Le Concept Stratégique reposera sur quatre piliers.

First, defence and security in the 21st century. Our commitment to collective defence under Article 5 is rock solid, and we will support it through appropriate military activities. We will also address how we defend against new threats and challenges, such as cyber attacks; proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction; terrorism; and disruption to our energy supplies.

Second: security through crisis management. Instead of reacting to the consequence of crisis once violence has broken out, we need to be more active in preventing and managing crises at an earlier stage. This will require us to coordinate our activities better with those of other organisations involved in crisis management – this is what we call the comprehensive approach. And we need to have the right capabilities and relationships to do this.

Third, how NATO can promote international stability. We need to strengthen our partnership with the European Union, and I will dicuss later my proposals to this end. NATO's partnership policies with other nations have been a true success. And we should build on this success by developing more dialogue and more cooperation with the countries across the world. Countries that share our interest in peaceful international relations – including countries such as India and China. At the same time, we need to broaden the range of subjects we are prepared to discuss with our partner nations, and also with other organisations, such as the United Nations.

Finally, the fourth element in the new Strategic Concept is NATO transformation and reform. Reform is a continual process, not a one-off event. In this financially constrained environment, the Strategic Concept must lay out a path for getting better value, and more security, from our defence budgets. Over the past few years we have made progress in making our forces more deployable. But still too many of our forces are stuck in barracks -- a legacy from the Cold War. They are expensive to maintain, and not suited for what we need them for. Quite simply, that has to change.

Now allow me to highlight one particular matter that will play a key role at the Summit in Lisbon. In view of the threat represented by missile proliferation, we must better protect ourselves. Agreement to develop a NATO territorial missile defence capability would allow us to do this. By agreeing to expand the Alliance’s current missile defence project which right now is aimed only at protecting our deployed forces. By expanding that we could provide missile defence cover to European Allied territory and populations.

Let me repeat that point - By agreeing to expand the Alliance’s current missile defence for deployed forces – we could provide missile defence cover to territory and populations. This is our goal.

Now, allow me to come back to the Comprehensive Approach. Today’s complex, multidimensional threats and challenges require a Comprehensive Approach, in which political, military, economic and other measures complement each other. NATO has its strengths. So do the European Union, the United Nations, and other actors like NGOs. In order to ensure that those strengths are mutually reinforcing, we must talk together, plan together and act together, whenever it makes sense.

In the 1990s, when the transatlantic community pulled together to end the conflicts in the Balkans, we had high hopes that a much broader NATO-EU relationship would soon emerge. After a good start, regrettably, we have not been able to build upon it, and to extend it across a broader range of security issues.

What are the reasons for this? Simply put, national perceptions of the importance of NATO-EU cooperation continue to differ widely. Some nations consider building a wide-ranging strategic partnership between the European Union and NATO a political priority. Others, however, remain hesitant, arguing that a closer relationship might compromise the autonomy of the two institutions, or establish some sort of hierarchy between them.

I want to reassure those who are hesitant that NATO respects the European Union’s autonomy of decision making as NATO is attached to its own autonomy of decision making. In addition, a wide-ranging strategic partnership means that both partners cooperate on an equal footing, which is a condition to a trusting relationship. Over the past two years, members in both our organisations have made a range of proposals to improve the cooperation and bring us closer together. I believe that we need to build on this momentum to take EU-NATO cooperation to a higher level in the following three key areas:

First, and foremost, the EU and NATO need regular discussions, at all levels, on the entire spectrum of common security interests. Today, we are in the unfortunate situation that NATO and the EU are not able officially to discuss important issues other than Bosnia and Herzegovina. We should be able to discuss all issues of shared interest.

Second, the EU and NATO need to work more closely together in operations. We will increasingly find ourselves in the same theatres sharing similar objectives, as is already the case today in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and off the coast of Somalia. Given the different tools available to our two institutions, our approaches must be complementary. To do this requires a new level of coordination.

Third, we need to get greater return from our defence spending. I give you only one example: we must ensure that we develop a common approach in our work to tackle the threat of the so-called Improvised Explosive Devices, including road-side bombs, which is responsible for significant numbers of military and civilian casualties in Afghanistan. I believe that together we can reduce duplication and use scarce resources more efficiently.

In order to overcome political difficulties, I suggested a “two way street” approach when I met with European Union Defence Ministers in Palma de Mallorca last February. On the one hand, all EU Member States should be able to participate in NATO-EU cooperation. On the other hand, the EU should reinforce its relations with Allies who are not members of the EU in political-military matters. I have raised three 3 points: better involvement of non-EU Allies in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) activities; the EU should give Turkey an overall security agreement with the EU, as well as arrangements between Turkey and the European efence Agency].

I have shared these proposals with EU authorities, including President Buzek, and with several Heads of State and Government. I was pleased with the conclusions of the European Council two weeks ago, and look forward to working with High Representative Catherine Ashton to solve the political difficulties that stall EU-NATO cooperation. We need engagement at the highest political levels to move forward. In particular, the 21 countries that are members of both organisations can – and indeed must – play an active role in looking for solutions.

In conclusion I am very much aware of the role of the European Parliament in encouraging further progress. Which is why I look forward to your support and your reactions to my various suggestions.