Center for Strategic Decision Research


Key Issues for EU-NATO Relations

Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut
Director for Strategic Affairs,
Ministry of Defense of France

After the splendid presentation by Minister Fasslabend, discussing EU/NATO homilies may not be terribly exciting. But I think this is a very serious topic of which we must be aware. While expectations for the EU/NATO relationship are quite good, it has been an ongoing topic in our business for 30 years and we must continue the discussions though they are sometimes quite difficult.  


In order to launch the discussion, I would like to ask some questions. First, “What is the appropriate way to interpret the Berlin Plus Agreements?” This is not an abstract question, but a day-to-day topic, both at the Military Committee and at the North Atlantic Council. My opinion, I hope with fairness, is that there are two schools of thought on this. One sticks to the technical substance of the Berlin Plus Agreements, highlighting the contents of the 13 texts that encompass them, and argues that this is basically a framework for cooperation in the field of crisis management. The second school of thought is much broader. It says that the Agreements are a template for a partnership that goes well beyond crisis management and involves many other issues that must be progressively developed. This view is being discussed right now in the framework of the mandate for the SHAPE cell at the European Union Military Staff. 

The second question is, “Beyond crisis management, what are the areas in which the EU and NATO should exchange and cooperate and in what form should it be done?” The crisis management background is the 1999 Washington Summit framework but beyond that there has been constant debate about how broad the field of exchange should be. At the Wehrkunde recently, Chancellor Schroeder raised some interesting points about this and there also have been smaller discussions about such areas as the fight against terrorism, the fight against organized crime, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the relative roles and approaches of NATO and the EU have been the subject of continuous debate. 

Minister Fasslabend has also given us an example of the sort of challenges that are ahead for the EU/NATO relationship. It is an EU Three with the support of the Council which is discussing with the Iranians. There is also close coordination with the U.S. and yet there has been information at the NAC and presentation of those issues to a certain extent, at least at the initiative of one delegation. 

The third question is, “What is the nature of the EU Three/NATO relationship regarding capacity development?” I am going to be very blunt here. Both the EU and NATO have a big problem in this area and it is called the nations. Each has been trying to push the nations and encourage them to do better. You can judge their success, but this is clearly a field for complementarity, as the ministers have said. The EU has no wish to substitute for NATO in fields such as training, transformation, or the setting of standards; these are definitely NATO fields. Still, the EU is engaged in initiatives that are capability related and is working to improve conditions regarding overtime, markets, and procurement, which will certainly be helpful to NATO and can stimulate NATO’s interest. 

The fourth and final question is, “What will the consequences be for the EU and NATO regarding the emerging need to take a broader approach to crisis management and involve from the beginning the political dimension, the reconstruction dimension, and the civilian dimension?” On this particular issue we are only at the beginning. The EU has always said that it has multi-faceted capabilities and can handle several aspects of crisis management. NATO is now also increasingly interested in integrating various aspects in its own future planning. So here we have a topic that is open to creative thinking and creative solutions and that is likely to be an important topic.  























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