Center for Strategic Decision Research


Canada and the NATO-EU Relationship

His Excellency Art Eggleton
Defense Minister of Canada


NATO has become a key player in enhancing regional stability well beyond the borders of its member-states: by opening its door to new members; by establishing a privileged dialogue with Russia and Ukraine; by fostering consultations with other European states through the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council; and by offering a dialogue with Mediterranean countries. NATO can act-effectively and decisively. It has proven so in the Balkans since 1995.


Canada has been actively involved in every one of the Alliance's military missions. From IFOR to SFOR to KFOR, Canada has been there on the ground. In fact, a Canadian, Major General Rick Hillier, is currently in command of SFOR's Multinational Division (South West) in Bosnia. We were also in the skies over Yugoslavia. And we have strongly backed every stage of NATO's post-Cold War adaptation and reform. Today, one can truly say that the Alliance exhibits the characteristics of a regional security body with interests and influence throughout the Euro-Atlantic region. These developments have a particular interest for Canada, and we welcome and support them. Because we are not a superpower, because we do not have the political clout the United States enjoys and that ensures its voice is always heard, and because we are not, and never will be, a member of the European Union, it is extremely important for us to get the NATO-EU relationship right.


We believe it is essential that NATO and the EU develop day-to-day links at all levels. We want to ensure that both organizations can cooperate effectively, particularly in times of crisis when unity in pursuit of a common objective is so important. We don't want surprises. As we saw in Bosnia and Kosovo, early exchange of information and intelligence is key to planning and to the coordination of efforts to bring peace. Crisis prevention and crisis management often depend on joint approaches using a variety of means-political, economic, and military. Crisis management also calls for flexibility in adapting to changing circumstances. It is entirely conceivable, for example, that a NATO-led operation could at some stage be transferred to the EU. In turn, an EU-led operation might require greater NATO involvement if a crisis deteriorated to a point that it affected regional stability or the security of an Ally. That is why both organizations need to be involved in all aspects of planning from the outset. We are making some progress on this front. Consultations between the EU's Political and Security Committee and NATO's North Atlantic Council are proceeding well. A minimum of three such consultations per EU presidency-that is, six a year-have been set, and more will be convened should circumstances warrant. Council-level exchanges on the situation in the Western Balkans, where both organizations are cooperating closely, have also taken place. These are notable steps in fostering transparency and mutual understanding on the broad strategic orientations of the two organizations. But there is still much work to be done on the issue of defense planning-identifying and developing the forces required to fulfill the missions set by both NATO and the EU. As I have stated before, creating a joint, integrated defense planning and review framework-in which all 23 states would participate-remains our preferred position. At the very least, our defense planning processes should work in harmony and be closely coordinated. We must establish and encourage links at all levels and between all planning activities of the two organizations. Such an arrangement is necessary to foster the increased coherence, collaboration, and transparency we seek between NATO and the EU.












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