by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council in Defence format
Good afternoon. I am looking forward to meeting the EU Defence Ministers. I met 22 of them last week at the NATO defence ministerial meeting. And earlier today a large number of EU Member States announced that they are going to be part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation or the PESCO. I am a firm believer of stronger European defence. So I welcome PESCO because I believe that that can strengthen
European defence which is good for Europe but also good for NATO. Stronger European defence has the potential to help us increase defence spending, provide new capabilities and also to improve burden-sharing within the Alliance. So this is a way to strengthen the European pillar within NATO.
I also welcome the fact that so many European leaders have highlighted or underlined the importance that European defence has to be developed in a way that it’s not competing with NATO, but which is complementary to NATO. We don’t need duplication, we don’t need competition, but what we need is cooperation and a European defence which is complementing NATO.
Not least because non-EU Allies are vital to European security. You know that after Brexit, 80 percent of NATO defence spending will come from non-EU Allies. And three of the four battlegroups which NATO has deployed to the Eastern part of the Alliance will be led by non-EU Allies.
So I think to make sure we do this in a way that we complement each other, there are at least three things that are of great importance.
One is that we need coherence when it comes to development of capabilities. We must avoid that the same nations have two sets of requirements for what kind of capabilities they should develop.
Secondly, we need to be sure that forces and capabilities developed under PESCO are also available for NATO.
And thirdly, we need the fullest possible involvement of non-EU NATO Allies in the consultations and in the process. Because we also have to make sure that they are included as far as possible in these discussions.
Then I also welcome that we are making a lot of progress when it comes to NATO-EU cooperation. We are implementing the Declaration and the 42 proposals we agreed last year. We are now looking at what more we can do especially when it comes to fighting terrorism, working together NATO and the EU in the fight against terrorism in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, what we can do when it comes to women, peace and security. And also when it comes to military mobility which is of great importance. Our ability to move forces quickly across Europe. NATO has been working on this for several years, since 2014, addressing many of the bureaucratic legal hindrances for border crossing, but of course we need to do more, and we also need to address issues like infrastructure, means of transportation, and therefore I welcome close cooperation between NATO and the EU on military mobility and I think this can be a flagship for NATO-EU cooperation, how to move forward on military mobility in Europe.
Robin Emmott (Reuters): Are you aware of any Russian interference in Catalonia’s independence referendum? Spanish ministers today have said that they believe Russia used social media to try and swing the referendum against Madrid?
Secretary General: We have seen several reports about Russian attempts to interfere in domestic political processes in different countries. But I will not comment specifically on Catalonia. I will just leave that to the Spanish government to comment on that.