by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the transatlantic defence industry reception

  • 15 Jun. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 15 Jun. 2023 17:57

(Public excerpt of the Secretary General’s remarks)

Good afternoon all.
A warm welcome to Minister Reznikov. 
And to our EU colleagues.
High Representative Borrell.
And Commissioner Breton.

We have with us today representatives of key defence companies in the trans-Atlantic defence industrial base.

It is important we meet together today as we face a critical moment for our security. Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine has brought back war on an industrial scale to Europe.

Allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine as it heroically defends itself. As a consequence, many Allies have significantly depleted their own stockpiles.

So we need to ramp up production to meet the needs of Ukraine. And we need to replenish our stocks to ensure our own deterrence and defence.

Given these challenges, the relationship between governments and industry has never been more important.

Of course, it is national governments that sign the vast majority of contracts. But NATO plays a critical role for industry as well.

First, at NATO, we define how much we should spend on defence. And we should spend more!
Before 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea, Allies were cutting their defence budgets. Since then, we have agreed the Wales Defence Investment Pledge. And defence budgets have been going up. Since 2014, European Allies and Canada have added 350 billion euros extra defence spending.
At the Vilnius Summit next month, I expect Leaders to agree an even more ambitious pledge. Setting two percent of GDP as a minimum for defence spending. Not just a goal to aspire to. This will mean billions of additional money for capabilities that your companies provide.

Second, at NATO we decide what we spend that money on. Through NATO’s defence planning process we set specific capability targets for each Ally. We drive technological development. And we establish standards for interoperability. This again has a direct impact on industry.
I expect that tomorrow Ministers will agree new, higher targets for battle decisive munitions.
At our Summit in Vilnius, I expect NATO leaders to make further decisions on a new force model. Setting significantly higher requirements for Allies’ capabilities and force readiness.

NATO has also stepped up efforts to safeguard Allies’ technological edge, through the Defence Innovation Accelerator, DIANA, and the NATO innovation Fund.
And we are using our unique role to set material and equipment standards, which are key to improving Alliance interoperability and interchangeability.

Third, NATO facilitates how we spend the money. The Alliance has tried and tested structures for joint procurement. Allies often turn to the NATO Procurement Agency, NSPA, for delivery of joint procurement worth billions of dollars. The NSPA is currently overseeing one billion USD worth of joint projects for ammunition procurement alone.

I encourage you all to make use of the NSPA. Also as a platform for more NATO-EU cooperation. Thierry and I were present for the inauguration hosted by Kajsa Ollongren in the Netherlands, of the Multi Role Tanker Transport fleet. This project is the gold standard for how our two organisations can deliver new capabilities when we work together.

So substantive dialogue between industry and the defence community has never been more important.
To ramp up production, but also to make sure that our supply chains are robust and resilient. And that we do not inadvertently create dependencies on unreliable suppliers and authoritarian regimes, such as China.

Tomorrow, NATO Defence Ministers will review a ‘Defence Production Action Plan’; which Leaders will adopt in Vilnius.
The steps outlined in the Action Plan will connect Alliance defence industrial capacity more effectively to our defence planning.

It will also facilitate more joint procurement, help meeting NATO’s capability targets and support Allies in implementing NATO standards.

Industry has an important role to play on all of these issues. 
Today we open a new chapter in our relationship.
Allies and industry, NATO and the EU, working more closely together.

I am confident that this, our first meeting between NATO Ministers and the representatives of the transatlantic defence industrial base, will not be our last. In addition to the NATO Industry Forum,  we will also schedule further industry engagement at future Defence Ministers’ meetings. 

So welcome once again to all of you.
And I look forward to our discussions.