by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Defence Ministers
We have just finished three working sessions of NATO Defence Ministers. The Alliance’s deterrence and defence posture is full-spectrum, ranging from conventional capabilities and missile defence to cyber defence and the nuclear dimension. So we began today with a regular meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group, to consider the safety, security and effectiveness of NATO’s nuclear deterrent.
Over lunch, we took stock of our work towards fairer burden-sharing across the Alliance and we are making major progress. This will be the third consecutive year of accelerating defence investment across European Allies and Canada. This means an increase of almost 46 billion US dollars more for defence since 2015. Today, we are releasing further detailed information on defence spending. In 2017, twenty-five Allies will increase defence spending in real terms. This year, we expect Romania to spend 2% of GDP on defence, joining the five countries already meeting this benchmark, and next year, Latvia and Lithuania will join them, spending 2% or more on defence. Burden-sharing involves cash, capabilities and contributions too. Here also, the trend is up. Today, Allies have agreed to accept new NATO capability targets. Meaning that we have committed to step up in key areas, including heavy equipment, air-to-air refuelling, and more forces to move at even shorter notice.
We were joined at lunch by the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, as well as the ministers of Finland and Sweden. And I presented a progress report on NATO-EU cooperation to ministers, jointly authored by myself and the EU High Representative. One area where our cooperation has been particularly useful is cyber defence. The NATO and EU emergency cyber response teams are now able to share information and warnings in real time. And that’s exactly what they did during the global ransomware attacks earlier this week. Today, we agreed to look into ways to expand our cooperation even further, including in the fight against terrorism.
NATO’s efforts to fight terrorism were high on the agenda at this afternoon’s working session. The Alliance joined the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS last month and we have already increased the flight-time and information sharing of our AWACS surveillance aircraft supporting the Coalition. Here at NATO Headquarters, a new Terrorism Intelligence Cell has been established, allowing us to more effectively share information and analysis on terrorist threats, work to set up our Hub for the South is also on track. It will be a focal point for increasing our understanding of the challenges stemming from that region. And it will be fully operational by the end of the year.
In our working session, we also took stock of our strengthened deterrence and defence posture. As I saw for myself a few days ago, our enhanced forward presence is now fully operational in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. And our Multinational Division Headquarters in Poland is now active. This sends a clear message to any possible aggressor: we are determined, we are united, we are NATO.
Our presence in the Black Sea region is also developing. Earlier this week, the Headquarters of our Multinational Brigade South East in Romania was activated as a NATO military body. The brigade is conducting exercises and UK jets are currently patrolling the region’s skies.
So NATO is stepping up across all domains: air, land, sea, and cyber. As determined as ever to keep our people safe.
Finally, NATO leaders decided last month to hold a Summit next year. I expect the 2018 Summit will take place here in Brussels next summer.
With that, I’m ready to take your questions.