Center for Strategic Decision Research



EU and NATO: Successes and Challenges

Ms. Claude-France Arnould
Director, Defense Aspects
Council of the European Union


In discussing the relationship between the European Union and NATO, I think we have to consider what has been achieved, what is a success, and what is even more than a success, an “acquis.” We need to recognize all that our military commanders have achieved.

A great achievement is that Berlin Plus has been implemented and in a most satisfactory way. Its beginnings were not so easy, because the chain of command for the FYROM mission was entirely European. Now, however, in Operation Althea in Bosnia, the feeling within the European Union is that a European chain of command is entirely proper. However, while Operation Althea is going well, the planning phase was rather difficult—at the very beginning we did not know we would have to share responsibilities with the remaining NATO presence. Now, however, the operational phase is running perfectly and we need to pay tribute to those who implemented it and to recognize that it is a real success.

It is also a success on which we are ready to build. If scenarios such as those described by General Schuwirth occur, we in the European Union will be very happy to use the Berlin Plus arrangement again, because it has proved efficient and satisfactory. One sign of its success is that our Althea force commander, Major General David Leakey, was selected to succeed General Perruche as Director General of the European Union Military Staff.

Regarding Sudan, everybody must recognize that our military has functioned well on the ground and that the mission was coordinated in a perfectly military manner. We continue to have regular staff-to-staff contact with the Commission, the Military Staff, and our equivalents in NATO. I hope we will be able to do the same thing in Kosovo because we will stay, and we are committed to implementing a EU civilian mission and want to do a good job. I realize that this is one of the priorities of the future German presidency, but we are already having staff-to-staff contact to start off on the right foot and to ensure cooperation.


In addition to our successes, we must also look at what is problematic. We have two kinds of problems, I believe. First, there is the question of the format, which is poisoning our relationship. While many have said that it is silly and has to be stopped, we do need to understand why we have the problem. I believe we have the problem because we have built on compromise, and when you build on compromise you do not always have thoughtfulness and clarity. I understand that compromise was necessary so that Berlin Plus could be agreed to, implemented, and launched, but now we have to understand that it is not acceptable for NATO to discuss all subjects with the 25 member-states of the EU, because classified information cannot be shared with all 25. Another problem is that Berlin Plus operates with the 25 member-states but we do it with 23, and that is acceptable.

We also have a problem with the Defense Planning Questionnaire (DPQ). It is very difficult to assess whether the DPQ is satisfactory for the European Union because the European Union discusses capabilities with 25 member-states. I do not know if this is silly—as a diplomat I am not qualified to say that the concerns of those who have a problem with the Alliance and of those who have problems with the EU are silly. I believe we need to take the concerns seriously and we need to apply our imagination and be flexible in our thinking about any arrangements that would enable us to work together, which I believe everyone wants.

The second problem is with substance. General Perruche said that complementarity is clear, but it is less clear than it was a few years ago. When we came in with ESDP, we had a partner that was mainly military and whose main interest for us was that the United States takes on a huge part of the action and the burden. Now we have a partner that is engaged and will be engaged in many more fields and we will have a worldwide membership, and that we have to adapt to. I cannot speak for NATO, but what I would like to say for the European Union is that we would like to bring the whole range of instruments developed within the European Union, including the military elements developed through ESDP, to implement the European security strategy.

We will be able to add value to the international community, and help to bring peace and stability, when our military element is part of the EU global monetary framework. I am sorry to speak about money, but the European Union has a 4.5-billion-euro budget for external uses plus the European Defense Fund (EDF). We spend that money for development, for external relations, for policing, for third-pillar rule of law, and so on, and we want to bring the military element in that framework. I know we can add value and that is why we want to act. It is why we came to the Balkans with NATO and why we came to Congo and why we came to Sudan, and I think that is natural complementarity. So let us concentrate on specific jobs that we can do well together. Kosovo is one, and it will be a great achievement if we have success together there.


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