NATO hosts senior military staff talks with EU
The Director General of NATO’s International Military Staff (IMS), Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Wiermann (DGIMS) and the Director General of the European Union Military Staff (EUMS), Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen (DGEUMS), co-chaired the second NATO-EU bi-annual meeting this year on 25 November 2019.
The meeting started with a joint assessment of the development of the Military Staff-to-Staff Informal Coordination Plan. This covered aspects ranging from Force Planning and Force preparation; the Public information domain, including informal information exchange; intelligence staff cooperation; logistic and medical collaboration, as well as CIS and Cyber Defence cooperation.
Subsequently, the Conference focused on the update on the implementation of the military-related common set of 74 action items as stated in the Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on EU-NATO relations first signed in December 2016 and later reaffirmed in July 2018.
In his opening remarks Lieutenant General Pulkkinen underscored the importance of EU-NATO relationship, underlining that "the two military Staffs meet regularly at all levels and on many different topics" adding that "these substantive meetings enhance transparency and facilitate the human interface of our two Staffs to resolve the varied and challenging questions that need to be answered while supporting the overall level of military staff cooperation."
Discussions then turned to enhancing information sharing. NATO and the EU already share a substantial amount of information on current and potential threats in areas such as cyber threats and terrorism. The exchange of information is also well established amongst the individual nations that are part of both organisations. “NATO benefits from specific infrastructures, such as the Hub for the South and our newly established Cyber Centre that provide essential data for our overall situational awareness which could also prove beneficial to the EU. The more information we have, the more prepared we are”, clarified Lieutenant General Wiermann.
Another topic explored was the possibility to increase each organization’s participation in respective exercises. “NATO and the EU currently have 22 member countries in common and five of the 6 remaining EU Nations are NATO Partners. For the last couple of years, NATO has been actively including the EU in more major exercises such as our annual Crisis Management Exercise or our Cyber Coalition exercise. It only makes sense that we all exercise together to build up our interoperability which in turn allows us to work together as and when required thus enhancing the dynamic of self sutainability”, added the Director General of the IMS.
Participants also discussed the development of coherent, complementary and interoperable defence capabilities while avoiding duplication. In the Logistics domain the focus concerned the cooperation and consultation at the military staff level, on military mobility and medical issues which Lt Gen Wiermann asserted "are natural fields of cooperation" to ensure a coherent approach and the development of synergies between the EU and NATO.
Since 2013, the DGs’ Conference has been held twice a year with the participation of the Directors of all EUMS Directorates and IMS Divisions. It is organised in turn at the EU or NATO headquarters in Brussels.