On the Agenda

Brussels Summit, 14 June 2021

  • 14 Jun. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Jun. 2021 17:35

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Building on strong foundations: the transatlantic Alliance today

NATO Leaders are meeting in Brussels at a pivotal moment for the Alliance and for collective security. In an age of geopolitical competition, Allies are stepping up in response to the challenges of today and tomorrow. These include Russia's pattern of aggressive behaviour; terrorism; cyber attacks and disruptive technologies; the rise of China; and the security implications of climate change.

No country or continent can address these challenges alone. In a more unpredictable and competitive world, transatlantic unity and solidarity are vital to ensure the defence and security of NATO Allies. There is now a unique opportunity to strengthen the bond between Europe and North America, and prepare NATO for the future. This is why the NATO 2030 initiative to continue adapting the Alliance is at the heart of the Summit.

In December 2019, NATO Leaders asked Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to lead a forward-looking reflection process to make NATO stronger politically and fit for the future. This is why the Secretary General launched NATO 2030.

Over the last year, a group of independent experts as well as voices from civil society, youth and the private sector provided inputs to help shape the NATO 2030 agenda. On this basis, the Secretary General put forward concrete proposals for NATO Leaders to endorse at the Summit. These proposals aim to reinforce NATO's unity, to broaden the Alliance's approach to security and to defend the rules-based international order.

Under NATO 2030, Allies will seek to deepen political consultation, strengthen deterrence and defence, and enhance resilience. They will also take measures to sharpen NATO's technological edge, support the rules-based international order, boost partner training, combat climate change, launch the process for the next Strategic Concept and invest in the Alliance's future.

I. Deepen political consultation

NATO is a unique platform that brings Europe and North America together every day. Building on these strong transatlantic foundations, a renewed political commitment to consulting more on all issues that affect Allies' security and defence will reinforce unity. NATO will strengthen its role as the indispensable platform for transatlantic consultations on security and defence.



II. Strengthen deterrence and defence

Since 2014, the Alliance has implemented the biggest reinforcement of its collective defence in a generation, including with more forces at higher readiness and new deployments on Allied territory. At the Summit, NATO Leaders will take decisions to further enhance NATO's ability to deter and defend against any potential adversary, therefore improving the Alliance's readiness, responsiveness and ability to reinforce.



III. Enhance resilience

A broadened approach to security means a stronger focus on resilience, including infrastructure, supply chains and communications. Resilience is NATO's first line of defence and is essential for the Alliance to successfully fulfil its three core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security. It is key to push back potential adversaries who use military, political and economic tools to weaken the societies and undermine the security of Allies. Resilient civilian services and infrastructure are also essential for Allied military forces to operate effectively in peace, crisis or conflict – or during a global pandemic, as is currently the case.

NATO already plays an important role in bolstering resilience, including by setting minimum standards for Allies. Allies have agreed seven baseline requirements for national resilience against which they can measure their level of preparedness. Looking to the future, Allies will adopt an even broader and more coordinated approach to resilience, with clearer and measurable objectives, allowing them to tailor resilience goals to national circumstances. This will enable NATO to better monitor, assess and advise Allies on national resilience needs and requirements related to NATO's collective defence.



IV. Sharpen technological edge

Technological innovations are changing the nature of peace, crisis and conflict. In a world of growing geopolitical competition, NATO Allies can no longer take their technological edge for granted. As the indispensable forum for transatlantic cooperation on all security-related aspects of emerging and disruptive technologies, NATO is determined to stay ahead of the curve. In recent years, Allies have identified seven key emerging and disruptive technologies: artificial intelligence, data and computing, autonomy, quantum-enabled technologies, biotechnology, hypersonic technology and space. They have also agreed an implementation strategy that sets out ways in which NATO can work with partners, academia and the private sector – including start-ups – to develop new technologies more quickly and strengthen the industrial base.

As part of NATO 2030, the Secretary General has proposed to establish a new transatlantic defence innovation accelerator to foster more transatlantic cooperation on critical technologies and maintain the ability of Allies to work together. The accelerator will also help to better harness civilian innovation by working even more intensively together with partners, academia and the private sector – especially start-ups – to adapt to and adopt new technologies more quickly.



V. Support rules-based international order

When it comes to upholding the rules-based international order, countries like Russia and China do not share the Alliance's values. They are at the forefront of a pushback against that order. This has implications for the security, values and democratic way of life of Allied countries. To remain successful and ensure the defence and security of the Euro-Atlantic area, NATO should play a greater role in preserving and shaping the rules-based international order in areas that are important to Allied security. This includes by speaking with one voice in defence of shared values and interests. As part of NATO 2030, Allies will also take decisions to deepen NATO's relationships with like-minded countries and international organisations near and far, including in the Asia-Pacific.



VI. Boost partner training

When NATO's neighbours are more stable, NATO is more secure. Years of experience have taught the Alliance that prevention is better than intervention. NATO must always remain ready to deploy troops to manage crises when necessary. However, such operations are costly and difficult to sustain and do not necessarily address the underlying factors contributing to insecurity and instability.

Strengthening partners and training local forces is a more sustainable and cost-effective way to address insecurity, build stability and fight terrorism. NATO has real expertise in this area. Allies will decide to strengthen NATO's ability to provide security and defence assistance and build partner capacity in areas like counter-terrorism, stabilisation, counter-hybrid activities, crisis management, peacekeeping and defence reform.



VII. Combat climate change

NATO has recognised climate change as a security challenge for many years. In the Sahel, drought has fuelled conflict, driven migration and helped create the conditions for terrorism. In the Arctic, melting ice could lead to new geopolitical tensions.

In March, Allies agreed a new Climate Change and Security Agenda and NATO is now developing an ambitious action plan on climate change for the Summit.

There are three areas where NATO has an important role to play. It will aim to set the gold standard on understanding, adapting to and mitigating the security implications of climate change by: monitoring and tracking climate change much more closely assessing the impact on assets and installations Alliance-wide; and reducing military emissions to contribute to the goal of Net Zero.



VIII. The next Strategic Concept

NATO's current Strategic Concept was agreed in 2010 and has served NATO well. Nonetheless, the world has fundamentally changed in the past decade. That is why the time has come to adapt NATO for an increasingly contested and unpredictable security environment.

At the Summit, NATO Leaders will formally ask the Secretary General to steer the process for NATO's next Strategic Concept. It will take account of NATO's significant military and political adaptation since 2014 and recognise new realities. It will also be an opportunity to recommit to shared values and chart a common course for the future.



IX. Invest in the Alliance

Taking forward the ambitious and forward-looking NATO 2030 agenda will require continued investment in collective defence. The Alliance is already on the right track, with seven consecutive years of increases in defence spending by European Allies and Canada. It will be important to keep this momentum. At the same time, Allies are also discussing how to invest more together, in NATO, so that they can do more together. Because pooling resources is a force multiplier and an effective way to boost common security. Common funding also sends a powerful message of unity and resolve – both to Allied citizens and to any potential adversary.