NATO Summit Guide

Brussels, 11–12 July 2018

  • 11 Jul. 2018 - 12 Jul. 2018
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  • Last updated: 18 Jul. 2018 12:22

Exterior view of the new NATO headquarters

A stronger and more agile Alliance

The Brussels Summit comes at a crucial moment for the security of the North Atlantic Alliance. It will be an important opportunity to chart NATO's path for the years ahead.

In a changing world, NATO is adapting to be a more agile, responsive and innovative Alliance, while defending all of its members against any threat.

NATO remains committed to fulfilling its three core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. At the Brussels Summit, the Alliance will make important decisions to further boost security in and around Europe, including through strengthened deterrence and defence, projecting stability and fighting terrorism, enhancing its partnership with the European Union, modernising the Alliance and achieving fairer burden-sharing.

This Summit will be held in the new NATO Headquarters, a modern and sustainable home for a forward-looking Alliance.

It will be the third meeting of Allied Heads of State and Government chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.















I. Strengthening deterrence and defence

NATO troops on parade during a ceremony in Lithuania to mark the first anniversary of enhanced Forward Presence
NATO troops on parade during a ceremony in Lithuania to mark the first anniversary of enhanced Forward Presence

NATO's primary purpose is to protect its almost one billion citizens and to preserve peace and freedom. NATO must also be vigilant against a wide range of new threats, be they in the form of computer code, disinformation or foreign fighters.

The Alliance has taken important steps to strengthen its collective defence and deterrence, so that it can respond to threats from any direction. NATO does not seek confrontation and remains committed to dialogue, but will defend its members against any threat. Its deterrence aims not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent one. Everything NATO does is defensive, proportionate and fully in line with its international commitments.

NATO has enhanced its forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance with four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The Alliance is also strengthening its presence in the Black Sea region. These forces send a message that an attack against any NATO member would be an attack against the whole Alliance, and met with a collective response.

The NATO Response Force has tripled in size to approximately 40,000 troops, with a 5,000-strong high-readiness spearhead force at its core, ready to deploy in days. NATO has set up eight small headquarters in the eastern part of the Alliance to link national and NATO forces.

NATO has also reinforced its ability to respond to security challenges emanating from the Middle East and North Africa. The Alliance continues to augment Turkey's air defences; has stepped up exercises and sped up decision-making; supports the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS with surveillance flights and training for Iraqi forces; and works with other partners in the fight against terrorism. The Alliance has set up a Hub for the South at Joint Force Command in Naples, to enhance understanding of regional challenges. NATO also continues to be present in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and is working to counter terrorism, combat illegal trafficking and enhance capacity-building.

NATO is ensuring that its nuclear deterrent remains credible and effective, to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. Arms control and disarmament also continue to play an important role in the achievement of the Alliance's security objectives.

NATO is working with Allies, partners and other international organisations to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and defend against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

At the Brussels Summit, NATO will enter the next phase in its adaptation. Allies will take decisions to increase military mobility and the readiness of forces. They will decide on further measures in response to challenges emanating from the south.

NATO will also enhance resilience, both within Allied countries and collectively, by modernising capabilities and improving civil preparedness. It is strengthening its cyber defences, including through the creation of a new Cyber Operations Centre. And NATO is ensuring that it has the right mix of military and civilian capabilities to meet evolving security challenges, including hybrid warfare.

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II. Projecting stability and fighting terrorism

A NATO E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft prepares for its next mission in Konya, Turkey
A NATO E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft prepares for its next mission in Konya, Turkey

To safeguard security at home, NATO must help project stability beyond its borders, and fight terrorism. When the Alliance’s neighbours are stable, Allies are more secure.

Decades of experience, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, have shown that one of the best tools in the fight against terrorism and instability is training local forces. NATO has the expertise; a network of partnerships with over 40 countries across the world; and staying power – which matters for the long-term challenges Allies face.

In Afghanistan, NATO is increasing the size of the Resolute Support Mission, with 3,000 more trainers, helping local forces to secure their country. And at the Summit, Allies will confirm NATO’s enduring commitment.

NATO is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The Alliance supports the Coalition with AWACS surveillance flights, and is looking at how its support within the Global Coalition could evolve.

In Iraq, NATO has already trained hundreds of Iraqi trainers, helping them to strengthen their ability to fight terrorism so that they can share their skills with thousands of members of the security forces. At the Summit, Allies will agree to launch a new training mission in Iraq, to help Iraqi forces prevent the re-emergence of ISIS or other terrorist groups. This will include building military academies and schools.

NATO is also helping Jordan and Tunisia to strengthen their defence and to provide for their own security. It stands ready to assist Libya, if requested. In addition, NATO has set up a Hub for the South at its Joint Force Command in Naples to enhance its ability to anticipate and respond to regional threats. At the Summit, NATO will consider how it can do more to strengthen its southern partners, including with enhanced planning and exercises.

Iraqi bomb disposal experts train in defusing improvised explosive devices
Iraqi bomb disposal experts train in defusing improvised explosive devices

In the Balkans, NATO continues to support its partners, including through the KFOR mission. In the Aegean Sea, NATO is assisting international efforts to stem illegal trafficking and illegal migration, by providing real-time information to Greece, Turkey and the European Union’s border agency Frontex. In the Mediterranean, NATO’s broader maritime security operation Sea Guardian is supporting situational awareness, countering terrorism and contributing to capacity-building.

To the east, NATO will continue to boost the defence capabilities and build the resilience of its partners Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to advance reforms.

NATO will continue to work closely with partners such as Finland and Sweden, who have a significant contribution to make to security in the strategically important Baltic Sea region.

Projecting stability and being resilient go hand-in-hand with efforts to limit the negative impact of conflict on civilians. The Alliance is committed to protecting children and preventing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence.

NATO’s Open Door Policy, together with EU enlargement, has helped to spread stability and prosperity in Europe. In 2017, Montenegro became NATO’s 29th member, demonstrating that the Alliance’s door remains open to European states able to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

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III. Stronger cooperation with the European Union

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of the European Council Donald Tusk exit a working dinner
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of the European Council Donald Tusk exit a working dinner

Closer cooperation between NATO and the European Union (EU) is key to dealing with current and emerging security challenges, wherever they may arise.

The two organisations cooperate closely: NATO’s ability to do both collective defence and crisis management complements the wide range of capabilities the EU has to offer.

NATO and the EU have made unprecedented progress in many areas, including maritime cooperation in the Aegean and Mediterranean, in capacity-building for NATO partners, cyber defence, and countering hybrid threats. In 2017, a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats was jointly inaugurated in Helsinki, Finland.

At the Brussels Summit, NATO and the EU will take stock of the progress made since the 2016 Warsaw Summit. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to sign a new Joint Declaration with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, setting out a shared vision of how NATO-EU cooperation can help address most pressing security challenges.

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IV. Modernising NATO

NATO's Global Hawk Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft
NATO's Global Hawk Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft

Modern challenges require a modern Alliance, with the resources and capabilities to keep Allies safe.

At the Brussels Summit, Allies will agree on a major update of the NATO Command Structure, including two new commands to ensure NATO forces can move quickly across the Atlantic and within Europe.

NATO is also continuing to develop its Ballistic Missile Defence system, and delivering other key capabilities such as Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Alliance Ground Surveillance and anti-submarine warfare. It is investing in science and technology and is working with industry to produce capabilities that are innovative, interoperable and affordable.

NATO also helps nations decide how and where to invest in their defence and supports Allies in identifying and developing multinational cooperative projects to deliver defence capabilities that Allies need. It also conducts regular military exercises to test the Alliance’s decision-making processes, systems and tactics to make sure that NATO and its partners can work well together.

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V. Fairer burden-sharing

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presents his Annual Report for 2017, highlighting efforts towards fairer burden-sharing within the Alliance
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presents his Annual Report for 2017, highlighting efforts towards fairer burden-sharing within the Alliance

A more uncertain security environment requires more investment in defence, modern military capabilities, and contributions to NATO military operations and missions. Investing more in defence is also vital to achieve fairer burden-sharing between Europe and North America.

In 2014, all Allies pledged to stop cuts to defence, increase spending, and move towards spending 2% of GDP on defence within a decade. Since 2014, NATO has seen three consecutive years of growth in defence expenditure across European Allies and Canada, amounting to an additional USD 87 billion.

So we have turned a corner, but we still have a long way to go.

The Summit will be an opportunity to review Allies’ progress and look at future plans.

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VI. An Alliance of shared values and transatlantic unity

The meeting room at the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels where the North Atlantic Council unites Europe and North America
The meeting room at the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels where the North Atlantic Council unites Europe and North America

NATO embodies the unique bond that unites Europe and North America. The Alliance is a community of 29 nations that share a common goal of preventing conflict and preserving peace.

Transatlantic unity has helped keep our people safe for almost 70 years. In today’s complex security environment, transatlantic cooperation is needed more than ever.

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  1. Turkey recognises the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.