Special address

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the annual European Defence Agency (EDA) conference

  • 16 Nov. 2015 -
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  • Last updated: 17 Nov. 2015 11:42

(As delivered)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear Federica,

Thank you so much for your introduction, for your opening remarks because as always you provide us with more insight and better understanding of very important and very complicated issues and challenges we face together.

Today we meet on a day of sorrow and solidarity for Europe.

At noon today, at NATO, at the EU, and across the continent, we stood for a minute of silence.

In memory of the victims of Friday’s barbaric attacks in Paris.

We condemn these attacks in the strongest terms. They represent an attack on our core values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Their target was ordinary people having fun on a Friday night in one of the world’s greatest cities.

At a concert, at a friendly football match, and at cafes.

Such attacks are meant to terrify, to scare us, but they will only strengthen our resolve.

This is not a fight between the Muslim world and the West.

It is a fight between extremists and those who believe in the fundamental values of freedom and respect for human rights.

Muslims are leading this fight against ISIL, in the Middle East and across North Africa, as they have suffered most of the casualties.

Terrorism and extremism can never defeat democracy and our open societies. They will not change who we are, and how we live our lives.

We will redouble our efforts and work even more closely, as part of a broader international effort to fight extremism and terrorism.

So we must stand vigilant, determined, and united.

And the fight against terror is yet another example of how NATO and the European Union are natural partners. We share the same neighbourhood. We share the same complex security challenges. We share 22 member states. And more than 9 out of every 10 EU citizens live in a NATO country.

And every day, we see how interconnected we are and how interconnected our security is.  How the problems in one part of the world affect people in another.

The response of the international community must be as multi-faceted as the challenges themselves. To deal with the symptoms, but also to address the root causes, we need a comprehensive approach.

And a strong military is a key component of such a comprehensive approach. NATO is already adapting. NATO has substantially increased and strengthened our collective defence. In fact the strongest increase of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War. With a NATO Response Force that has doubled in size to 40,000 troops. At its core is a new Spearhead Force that can deploy within days. To the east or to the south.

Our largest military operations, in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, have all had an important counter-terrorism aspect. 

In the east, we have increased our presence in the air, at sea and on the ground, to reassure our Allies. We are establishing eight new small headquarters in our eastern Allies to coordinate training and exercises. To support collective defence planning, and if needed, to aid the rapid deployment of NATO reinforcements.

At the same time, the European Union is playing a significant role.  Through the economic sanctions, the EU has made clear that Russia’s aggressive actions have costs and consequences. It is in the lead on the refugee crisis here in Europe. To build stability and promote economic development. It is fostering greater defence cooperation between European nations and the defence industry. And the European Union is strengthening Europe’s defence industrial base.

All of these are examples of how important the European Union is when it comes to developing the defence cooperation between European states. And how important it is that also NATO and the European Union work closely together. And as Federica has just underlined we are both very determined to be able to develop this cooperation. And I appreciate the close cooperation I had with Federica and the way we two are able to move forward on this important agenda of cooperation.

Our actions show how NATO and the EU are both determined to bring stability to our neighbourhood, and are working hard to achieve this.

But when the stakes are so high, and the needs are increasing, can NATO and the EU continue as we are? Working side-by-side towards similar ends, but not working together, hand-in-hand? I believe not.


I believe that we can achieve far more together in partnership. Our citizens are rarely distinguishing between what their nations do as members of one organisation or another. They want us to do what is necessary to keep them safe and secure.

So I see significant potential in several areas for improved and increased cooperation between NATO and the EU. Let me mention three.

First, in meeting hybrid threats.

Today’s challenges combine military with non-military means.

Hybrid warfare is the dark reflection of our own ‘comprehensive approach’. 

While we seek to stabilise countries, those who use hybrid warfare seek to de-stabilise them. 

Of course, hybrid warfare is not new.  It is as old as the Trojan Horse.

What is different is its scale, its speed and its intensity.  And that it is right at our borders. 

Both NATO and the EU are seeking to prepare, deter and defend against hybrid warfare.

We both have civilian and military tools that complement each other. Combining those tools could make a big difference.

That is why it is essential that we work closely together in several areas:

Improving our situational awareness, civil preparedness and resilience, cyber defence, strategic communications and joint training and exercises. So that when a crisis arises, we each know who to call on the other side of the town.


The second area for closer NATO-EU cooperation is helping partners in our neighbourhood.

NATO and the EU are both working hard to support our partners. Whether they are facing intimidation from Russia, or violence and chaos from terrorist groups.

Every NATO Ally contributes to the Global Coalition to counter and to destroy ISIL.

We are also supporting countries such as Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq, and Ukraine, Moldova and  Georgia and many others. So they can better defend themselves and help maintain stability in their region, without the need for us to always deploy large numbers of our own combat forces.  NATO stands ready to intervene when needed. But we all know that in the long-run, prevention is always better than intervention.

The EU is also boosting the defence capacity of its partners, as well as helping to develop their economies and their political institutions. So separately, we are making a difference. But just think how much greater that difference could be if we worked together.


And now, to my third area for closer cooperation: and that’s you.  Europe’s defence and security industry.

You are already among the most advanced and most competitive industries in the world. 

Both Federica and I are determined that it stays that way. European autonomy is important.

But it should not exclude a strong transatlantic dimension.

In a global market, you face the challenge of staying competitive. And we must make sure that Allies can keep their military edge.

We need to stay ahead of the curve in defence innovation. That is why we created the NATO-Industry Forum. And that is why I welcome the investment by the EU in dual-use capability research.

NATO Allies rely on a competitive defence and security industry. But industry also relies on the decisions made by nations through NATO.

NATO sets defence planning priorities, so Allies can focus on critical capabilities, like surveillance and reconnaissance, or strategic airlift.

NATO sets the standards for the defence sector, to ensure efficient, cost-effective and interoperable solutions. And, most important of all, we set guidelines for defence spending, with all 28 Heads of State and Government committing to spend 2% of GDP on defence, as our economies grow.

We are not there yet. The picture is mixed, but there is progress. For instance, Estonia and Poland have this year reached the 2 percent, and many other Allies in central and Eastern Europe have laid out a roadmap to do the same.

The UK is increasing its defence spending in real terms and will stay above 2 percent. France is near to 2 percent, and Germany is making efforts to raise its defence spending.

All of this matters and all of this shows that more and more Allies are moving towards the 2 percent goal.

Once there was a time to collect the peace dividend. Now is the time to invest in our defence.

So ladies and gentlemen,

Close cooperation between NATO and the EU isn’t just something we should do.

It is something we must do. For we share more than the same members and the same people. We share the same values.

A commitment to freedom and democracy, to human rights and the rule of law. And those values are under threat. That is what we saw in Paris on Friday. Those values must be defended by us. That is why we work together. And that is why we must now take our cooperation to the next level. Not just side-by-side, but also hand-in-hand. That is the way we improve the cooperation between NATO and the European Union.

Thank you