The future of EU-NATO cooperation: Towards the NATO Summit 2022

On 8 October, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, on the occasion of his official visit to Spain, announced the date for the NATO 2022 Summit. The meeting, to be held in Madrid, will agree on a new strategic concept for the allies and will take place on 29 and 30 June 2022, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Spain’s membership of the Organisation.

Since its accession, Spain has played an important role as a result of its strategic position in the Mediterranean. This geopolitical advantage has not only facilitated dialogue with the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, but in the long term will also allow Spain to play a key role in the modernisation and renewal of NATO’s postulates.

Given the current complex political landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the growing uncertainty about NATO’s impact on our society, the 2022 Summit will be a key moment in promoting the Alliance’s internal cohesion, unity and survival in the face of today’s transatlantic defence and security challenges.

Among other things, NATO-European Union (EU) cooperation will be high on the Summit’s agenda. The last few months have seen an increase in criticism of the Alliance by its member states, with France, where the opposition is pressuring its president, Emmanuel Macron, to leave the Alliance, making statements of particular note. At the same time, EU member states are beginning to implement more actively the creation of a European army to guarantee the security of their citizens and protect themselves from potential threats at their borders.

Although NATO-EU cooperation is now being questioned by some, it has increased substantially compared to the early 21st century. In fact, on 7 July 2021, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on EU-NATO cooperation in the context of transatlantic relations, a text which indicates that, despite the different nature of the two organisations, their growth and evolution is coordinated, highlighting the synchronous rhythm that both maintain in the face of the current volatile geopolitical context. The development of a new joint Strategic Concept, cooperation between member states in intelligence matters, the development of analyses of potential threats and challenges, as well as the creation of a joint vision to confront future problems, stand out as the most relevant points within the current collaboration.

On 16 October, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, met with the US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, with whom he opened the way towards an agreement on a European defence system complementary to NATO. Such a system would allow not only member states and their military structures to be part of it, but also the European defence industry to play a greater role and enjoy greater opportunities. Last June, the European Commission launched the first European Defence Fund, a package of decisions to support the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the EU defence industry. As part of the precursor programme to the European Defence Fund (EDF), which has 23 calls for proposals to receive EU funding totalling 1.2 billion, the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) has 26 new projects to receive funding from a budget of more than ¤158 million.

With this, the European Defence Fund seeks to increase synergies with other EU civilian programmes and policies, with the aim of fostering the entry of new actors and reducing technological dependencies. The European Union is not only committed to collaboration with other international organisations in the field of defence, such as NATO, but also seeks new opportunities for defence industries through various funding and project support opportunities, thus addressing the difficulties and challenges that the European defence sector may face in the future.

By: Ana María Martín Elvira, junior consultant at ATREVIA Brussels.

ATREVIA Bruselas

Equipo de Asuntos Públicos europeos en la oficina ATREVIA de Bruselas. Especializados en asuntos políticos y regulatorios de la UE.

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