Academic Forum

and Europe:
A Time For
Unity, A Time
For Vision

21-22 Feb. '97

Panel Three: Sharing Hopes and Ambitions: The New Atlantic Alliance

"Institutional Foundations of Western Security"

Executive Summary

Transatlantic and European political, economic and military institutions are essential to the success of our effort to create a new European security system. Each of the four major institutions on which we rely-the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) and the Western European Union-are the vehicle through which that new system will be created and will themselves be transformed as a result of the effort.

The transformation of these institutions will be fundamental in character: New members will be added; new responsibilities accepted; new organizational structures created; new requirements for coordination among institutions and new demands on publics are needed to support all of the above. These transformations will require national leaders, institutional directors and political elites to seek the consent of the people of the states represented in those institutions to the proposed changes. And because this transformation is required to complete the new security system, an expression of consent by citizens to institutional changes is by extension, an expression of consent on the full range of the plans and programs for the new European security system. Issues that have been discussed in private, within the councils of government and among the professionals who conduct the business of our institutions, must now be presented to publics.

That presentation must include three elements:

  • an explanation of how far and how well the major institutions have been transformed to take on their new roles;

  • the rationale for and objectives of the new European security system;

  • the expected benefits and risks associated with taking those decisions.

This short paper will take on two tasks: (1) describe the progress made by leaders, directors and elites in developing the presentation of these elements; (2) suggest topics that need further development in public fora so that the rationale and risks associated with creating a new European system will be fully understood by the citizens in Europe and North America. These topics include the rationale for NATO expansion, the relationship between NATO and the EU, and the appropriate tasks for the WEU and the OSCE.

The Transformation of the Major Institutions

NATO, the EU, OSCE and WEU are the principal institutions around and through which a new security system for Europe will be built. Each has already undergone substantial changes in order to take on the new tasks of the post-Cold War era, but each will require additional and fundamental changes to address the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The transformation of NATO began from the moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall and has continued down to the present moment. Its transformation has been driven by the need to adapt its missions and force structures to:

  • take account of the collapse of the Soviet Union;

  • assure the unification of Germany as a member of the alliance;

  • conduct "out of area" operations;

  • reflect the willingness of member states to offer the capabilities of the alliance to the UN as regional security organization for the purposes of conducting peacekeeping and peace enforcement tasks under the UN Charter;

  • make possible the development of a European defense identity within the alliance; and finally, address the requirements of offering membership to states in Central Europe, to include addressing the legitimate security concerns of Russia.

As part of its transformation the alliance has reduced the total level of forces deployed (including a substantial reduction in nuclear forces), streamlined its integrated command structure, created affiliated organizations whereby states not members of NATO could consult on a high political level with NATO on security matters (the NACC, soon to be replaced by the Atlantic Partnership Council), devised the Partnership for Peace (PFP) so that these same states might prepare themselves for membership in the alliance and work with NATO to develop their armed forces so that they might participate in NATO operations, developed the concept for the combined joint task force (CJTF) that will allow the WEU to make use of NATO assets for missions authorized by the WEU and recognized by the NAC.

In the context of its decision to extend an offer of membership to one or a number of states of Central Europe at its summit meeting in July, 1997, the alliance has committed itself to two further tasks. The first is to continue the internal adaptation of the alliance to assure that the NATO command structure truly reflects the responsibilities for security and stability on the continent that have been assumed by the European members of the alliance. The second is to conclude a "charter" between NATO and Russia that establishes means for the two to cooperate on matters of security and stability and assures Moscow that the alliance is no threat to its legitimate security concerns.

European Union

The EU has undergone substantial development since 1989. In fact, the EU did not come into being until 1992 when the Maastricht Treaty came into effect. At that time the EU succeeded the European Community (EC) and the "common market" was transformed into a political and economic union.

Over the ensuing years the EU has succeeded in:

  • creating open borders for the movement of citizens of EU states;

  • establishing itself as the representative of its constituent members in international trade negotiations;

  • undertaking the task of regulating business and trade practices among the members to assure a fair competitive environment throughout the EU;

  • taking up the issues associated with employment, labor practices and standards and job creation;

  • admitting three new members, to bring the present membership to fifteen.

The EU is presently conducting an intergovernmental conference (IGC) that aims at adapting the EU's structures and procedures so that it might be better positioned to begin its own expansion into Central Europe. Toward this end the IGC is giving consideration to changes in the way member states' votes are cast on matters related to economic, political and social, and foreign and security policies and programs. In recognition that as the EU membership expands, and the issues before the Council (where each state is represented) cannot reasonably be expected to be resolved by consensus (unanimous votes), the IGC is attempting to devise methods for majority voting.

The IGC is also struggling to devise methods by which subgroups within the EU who agree on matters affecting them, but either not of interest to others or outside the concerns of others, might be pursued by the subgroups. This search for "flexibility" is meant to recognize that among member states interests will differ in their particulars from time to time and that the concerns of one or a small number ought not retard the progress others feel they can make toward specific economic, political or foreign and security goals. In addition, the IGC is seeking methods by which the authority of the EU on matters of immigration, asylum, international crime, terrorism and drug-trafficking can be increased

The IGC is also addressing the creation of the mechanism for the EU to develop and pursue a common foreign and security policy (CFSP). Because matters of foreign and security policy are at the heart of national sovereignty, the EU is seeking methods of voting with respect to a CFSP and participation in foreign policy programs and military operations that strike a delicate balance between providing the EU with the authority and responsibility it needs to conduct a credible CFSP and need to respect the sovereign prerogatives and national interests of member states.

The work of the IGC is aimed at preparing the EU for expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. It has already committed itself to beginning accession talks with prospective members six months after the end of the IGC, which on the current schedule will mean in early 1998. The IGC is considering how those talks will be structured and the criteria that will be applied in assessing an applicants readiness for admission.

At the same time, the EU is considering the steps needed to create a single European currency. The talks on European monetary union (EMU) have themselves reached the penultimate stage. It has been agreed that the EMU will be effective as of January 1, 1999. At the December, 1996 EU summit the members also agreed on the mechanisms by which the stability of the new currency, the "Euro," will be maintained. What remains to be determined is which states will join the EMU. On current expectations, the initial members will include Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and Italy.

Western European Union

The Western European Union predates the formation of NATO. But with NATO's formation and the substantial commitment of the US to Western Europe's defense in the early 1950s the WEU became a dormant institution. With the end of the Cold War, a growing determination among European states to develop a European defense identity (EDI) and the evident need of the EU for a military organization to supplement the EU's CFSP, new life was breathed into the WEU.

In the years since 1989 the WEU has:

  • undertaken the mission of enforcing the arms embargo against the states of the former Yugoslavia via an Adriatic Sea patrol;

  • adopted the "Petersburg" declaration whereby it agreed to undertake peacekeeping, search and rescue and humanitarian relief tasks as a regional security organization responsive to the UN and the OSCE;

  • established a satellite receiving center through which it might conduct command/control, surveillance and reconnaissance missions;

  • developed planning cells;

  • established intelligence sharing arrangements with NATO;

  • begun to prepare itself to take responsibility for directing operations employing NATO assets under the CJTF concept recently adopted by NATO.

These measures have given rise to suggestions that the WEU take on a more active security role, perhaps as an integral part of the EU.

Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe

The 55 member OSCE, like the EU, started to gain some institutional momentum after 1989. "The Charter of Paris for a New Europe" (November 21, 1990) was an attempt to shift the CSCE from a forum for discussion to an "institution" charged with formalizing the adoption by CSCE members of the principles of the Helsinki Agreement of 1975. Three permanent or standing components were created (a Secretariat in Prague, the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Conflict Prevention Center in Vienna), and two political bodies (the Ministerial Council and the Senior Council).

At the Budapest summit in December of 1994 the CSCE was upgraded to organizational status as the OSCE. This occurred in the wake of increasing tensions between Russia and the West over the potential enlargement of NATO, the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, and Russia's role in the "near abroad." The US orchestrated this change primarily to address Russian concerns. Moscow had been seeking a permanent institution other than NATO or the EU to oversee security affairs in Europe.

The OSCE is intended to serve as a broadly based mechanism for the resolution of crises and for the conduct of preventative diplomacy. These additional responsibilities have included:

  • applying preventative measures to situations which could potentially develop into crises;

  • measures of political crisis management, which may include, fact-finding missions, regional roundtables, or creation of a framework for negotiation;

  • creation of mechanisms of consultation for urgent situations;

  • peacekeeping missions;

  • Arms control, Disarmament and Confidence and Security building measures (CSBM's);

In practical terms, the OSCE has discharged its responsibilities by:

  • conducting its first (and still ongoing) peacekeeping mission to police the cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan;

  • contributing to the Russian pullout of troops from the former Soviet Republics as well as efforts at resolving the dispute between Georgia and South Ossetia and monitoring a Russian-Latvian agreement on the dismantling of a radar station in Skrunda;

  • mediating talks between Russia and Chechnya;

  • supervising the recent elections in Bosnia;

  • and, agreeing in December, 1996 to reopen talks on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty in the wake of the anticipated expansion of NATO.

Topics in Need of Further Development

The foregoing briefly describes the transformation made by each of the major institutions associated with security in Europe since 1989. Until now, however, these efforts have been undertaken absent extensive, formal coordination among these institutions. The only exception of note was the coordinated announcement of the change to the status of the OSCE in December, 1994 in the wake of the NATO summit of January 1994 when the alliance announced the PFP, the CJTF and its determination to admit new members. As noted, this coordination was sought primarily as a way of assuaging Russian concerns about NATO's intentions by showing a willingness to upgrade the status of the OSCE, an organization to which Russia said it attached great importance for addressing its security concerns in Europe.

But as we approach this next stage in the creation of a new security system in Europe, it is critical that the relationship among the programs of the institutions and the institutions themselves is clearly presented to publics. The reasons for this are:

  • to make it plain that the effort to construct a new security system is equally shared among Transatlantic (NATO) and European (EU/WEU) institutions, thereby demonstrating a deep level of commitment among all the interested states in Europe's security;

  • to demonstrate that the effort is balanced between the US and the EU states in terms of costs and other burdens associated with enlarging the European space;

  • to underscore that the stability of a new European security system is based on a prudent combination of political, economic, social (EU/OSCE) and military (NATO/WEU) measures

  • aimed at enhancing the security of all and not diminishing that of any and that the system itself is open to all.

This demonstration of transatlantic commitment, balance and openness is of critical importance because:

  • American citizens believe Europe's citizens can and should take on greater responsibility for security in Europe. This American attitude can easily be interpreted by Europeans as a form of US isolationism or indifference;

  • Citizens in states of the EU, in particular, are struggling to put their domestic houses in order. This effort is particularly evident in Germany, France and Italy. These efforts tend to generate transitory differences among the European states which can easily be interpreted by Americans as disunity and a lack of commitment to the goals of the EU and therefore of a lack of capacity among Europeans to take on new obligations;

  • Citizens of Russia have not yet begun to take a full part in the effort to build a new European security system. The Russian government continues to interpret the efforts of NATO, the EU, OSCE and WEU in combination to be contrary to Russian national interests. A combination of steadfast commitment to their goals, shared responsibility and genuine openness toward Russia and its citizens by the US and EU states is essential to persuade Moscow and Russian citizens that they have not only a place in the new security system but are welcome as participants in the effort to construct it.

Accomplishing these tasks and engendering the commitment, balance and openness required is made more difficult by the following facts:

  • NATO's expansion has thus far been cast in terms that address primarily the concerns of Central European states. The rationale for expansion rests on a desire to increase the level of stability in that region of Europe, reinforce the efforts of governments there to institute and complete the reform of their political and economic systems and to establish peaceful relations with their neighbors. As important for West European and North American security these goals may be, it has yet to be clearly established how and why NATO expansion, especially if it is not to include all the states in Central Europe who could use such assistance, serves these ends. Leaders, directors and elites need to explain the reasons NATO nations should take on new security commitments, to include the additional expenses of modernizing the armed forces and infrastructure of new members, at a time when threats to their security- at least from external sources- seems quite low.

  • The expansion of the EU is likely to lag substantially behind that of NATO. Recent reports from the EU itself and the OECD suggest that new members may not fully enter the EU until the middle of the next decade, even if accession talks begin next year as scheduled. This timetable will put EU expansion 5-10 years behind that of NATO, which is committed to the entry of new members by 1999.

  • This difference in timetables has raised concern the balance implied in the expansion of both NATO and the EU might be lost. Although this might raise concern in the transatlantic context, the real worry is the context of relations with Russia. Weakened by the collapse of the USSR and the determination of former Warsaw Pact states to develop independently in political and economic terms, Russia has been adamantly opposed to NATO expansion. Russia sees NATO expansion as an effort by the West to create a security system by means of political-military means. Many in the West argue that a closer linkage between NATO and EU expansion would help assuage, even if it could not eliminate, Russian concerns. Indeed, some would argue the EU's expansion should go first and that in the wake of its anticipated success NATO expansion would be unnecessary. A larger group worries that the EU's expansion is likely to be delayed over issues created by new majority voting rules, adjustments to the common agricultural policy and the difficulties caused by the EMU.

  • NATO's internal adaptation is being stalled by differences between the United States and France on a number of issues. Most prominent among them is the dispute over the operational command, currently led by the US, that has responsibility for the Mediterranean. Because it is a region where NATO's military forces are most likely to be engaged in the foreseeable future, France believes Europeans should lead contingency planning. The Americans contend the region is of vital interest not only to Europeans but to the US as well and therefore it is loathe to surrender the command. Moreover, its claim is reinforced by the fact that among the allies, the US deploys the preponderance of military force in the region.

  • The charter with Russia could be a source of tension among the allies. The US favors a minimalist approach in which consultation is assured but few "rights" conferred. Some allies prefer a more forthcoming approach. Germany, for example, would not object to some form of a non-aggression assurance and commitments to consult on certain issues.

Developing a Presentation for Citizens

Leaders, directors and elites will have little difficulty impressing their citizens with the efforts made to transform institutions with an aim to making them relevant to the security environment as it has evolved since 1989. They need now to concentrate on formulating coherent responses to the following questions:

  • What is the rationale for NATO expansion? Publics need to know how new members will contribute to the security of old members, the extent to which all members will need to invest in the modernization of new members' military capabilities, how the security of those not brought into the alliance will be provided for; whether and how new members might be brought in; and how the alliance views its long-term relationship with Russia. This last point is particularly important. A view that holds Russia is no threat today and a likely member of NATO in the future raises questions about why we should pursue expansion of the alliance today when it is so unsettling for Russia. Alternatively, a view that sees Russia as a resurgent threat is likely to create concern among publics that new security obligations are being undertaken at a time when most allies are not in a good position to support them.

  • How does the EU relate to NATO? The issues raised by the parallel but staggered schedule of the two organizations was suggested above. It may be that it is past time for consideration of a pact or charter between the EU and NATO to establish their common purposes, near-term differentiation with respect to means and timing, and the longer-term convergence on a single goal- a peaceful, stable and secure European system.

  • What are the appropriate tasks for the WEU and OSCE? Those tasks might loom larger or smaller depending on the determination shown by NATO and the EU in their respective programs and the existence of a charter between NATO and Russia and the EU and NATO. But in the last five years we have moved from an era of "interblocking" institutions to one in which the two major institutions have an opportunity to guide the creation of new security system in Europe. If the WEU and OSCE can continue to play a role in that effort, they should be provided with the authority and responsibility to play that role. If not, it may be past time to consolidate the effort within NATO and the EU.

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