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Group statement | 17 May 2017

Statement of support for EU-NATO Collaboration

62 political, military and diplomatic European leaders call for closer EU-NATO collaboration

The Ukraine crisis has been a huge wake up call for the EU and NATO. Each organisation knows that it must work with the other. And for the first time in over a decade they are making a visibly concerted effort to cooperate.

It would be unacceptable if they did not. Both are headquartered in Brussels, deal with Europe’s security and defence, and share 22 member states. Europe’s security demands that they should cooperate. Yet for years they have barely managed to communicate, let alone work together.

So we warmly welcome and acknowledge last July’s Joint Declaration, last December’s Common Set of Proposals for Cooperation, and the increasingly successful efforts by the EU’s and NATO’s hard working staffs to implement these proposals.

But this is not enough, as is clear from the report by the European Leadership Network (ELN): “EU-NATO Relations: Inching forward” EU member states and NATO Allies need not just to want the EU and NATO to work together but to invest the political energy to make this happen.

The ELN report shows that this is not as hard as is often imagined. Political differences between a small minority of Allies and member states and respect for the organisations’ different mandates, decision making autonomy and institutional integrity, need not hold all progress hostage. Ultimately, the greater obstacles are lack of attention in European capitals, lack of resources and practical arrangements for collaboration in the two organisations, lack of knowledge in each organisation about the other, and a long-standing lack of cultural affinity made worse by years of diplomatic trench warfare.

These obstacles can now be overcome. And overcoming them would unlock greater efficiencies, greater effectiveness separately and jointly, powerful synergies, and genuine and much needed collaboration for the sake of Europe’s security and well-being.

This group endorses the key recommendations in the ELN report and calls on European governments to improve EU-NATO cooperation in the following ways:

Resource. Set more staff from the European Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and EU agencies to work on security and defence issues, security clear more staff, train personnel to work with confidential and classified information and provide secure communications equipment. NATO, with better security but many fewer total staff, needs money from NATO Allies for extra people to implement the Joint Declaration and the Common Set of Proposals.

Educate. Mutual familiarity is crucial for long-term collaboration. Establish sustainable and sustained mutual education between and about the two institutions. Member states’ delegations in both institutions should host workshops for NATO and EU staff and for their own personnel. Staff exchange between the two institutions should be incentivised, particularly in the seven areas of the Joint Declaration. Frequent, regular visits of international staff and national delegations to each other’s institutions should become central.

Explain. Create a compelling narrative on EU-NATO cooperation that promotes a better understanding of the value added by their cooperation, dispels concerns among domestic audiences and partner countries, and supports greater transparency and sustainability of activities. Aligning the EU and NATO message would foster coherence on the seven areas of cooperation and greater will to act against common threats.

Be ambitious. If Europe’s security is to be protected as it needs to be, EU member states and NATO Allies will have to shift in thought, word and deed from mere cooperation – working together on goals that happen to overlap – to active collaboration – working together towards shared goals. The international staffs need clear guidance that the goal is collaboration for real world effect, not simply cooperation for political effect or to avoid duplication or optimise resources. Member states should be clearer that the process continues far beyond 2017 and that the shared goal in working together is better security for Europe.

17 May 2017


  1. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway; former Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Deputy Chair of The Elders
  2. Kjell Magne Bondevik, Former Prime Minister of Norway
  3. Massimo D’Alema, former Prime Minister of Italy; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
  4. Willy Claes, former Secretary General of NATO, Belgium
  5. The Rt Hon Lord Browne of Ladyton (Des Browne), Chair of the ELN and former Defence Secretary of the United Kingdom
  6. Sir Adam Thomson, former British Permanent Representative to NATO, Director of the European Leadership Network
  7. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Defence Secretary and former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom
  8. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference and co-chair of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany
  9. General Sir John McColl, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) and Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey
  10. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Foreign Minister of Denmark
  11. Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, former Minister of Defence of Italy
  12. Rudolf Scharping, former Defence Minister of Germany
  13. Ana Palacio, former Foreign Minister of Spain
  14. Professor Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Netherlands
  15. Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister of Denmark
  16. Professor Dr Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Former Foreign Minister of Poland
  17. Louis Michel, Former European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Former Foreign Minister; Current MEP
  18. Elisabeth Rehn, former Defence Minister of Finland, current Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims at the International Criminal Court
  19. Professor Todor Tagarev, former Defence Minister of Bulgaria
  20. Dr Solomon Passy, former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria
  21. Hikmet Cetin, former Foreign Minister of Turkey and leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP)
  22. Imants Lieģis, former Defence Minister of the Republic of Latvia, serving Ambassador to France
  23. János Martonyi, former Foreign Minister of Hungary
  24. Fatmir Mediu, former Defence Minister of Albania
  25. Budimir Loncar, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of former Yugoslavia
  26. General Vincenzo Camporini, former Chief of the Joint Defence Staff of Italy
  27. Admiral (ret.) Juhani Kaskeala, former Commander of Finnish Defence Forces, former member of the Military Committee of the European Union
  28. Admiral the Lord Boyce (Michael Boyce), former Chief of Defence Staff and First Sea Lord, Crossbench Peer in the UK House of Lords
  29. General Klaus Naumann, former Chief of Staff of the German armed forces, Former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
  30. Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, member of the House of Lords
  31. Ricardo Baptista Leite, serving Member of Parliament, Portugal
  32. Marietje Schaake, serving Member of the European Parliament
  33. General (Ret.) Bernard Norlain, former Air Defence Commander and Air Combat Commander in the French Air Force and Military Advisor to Prime Minister Michel Rocard
  34. Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom (James Arbuthnot), former Chairman of the Defence Select Committee of the United Kingdom; serving member of the House of Lords
  35. Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (Sir Menzies Campbell), former leader of the UK delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; serving member of the House of Lords
  36. Lord Hannay of Chiswick (David Hannay), former British Ambassador to the EU and to the UN
  37. Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona, former OSCE Secretary General, Ambassador to the UK and Russia; and former Italian representative to the Albright Group for the drafting of NATO’s “New Strategic Concept”
  38. Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (John Kerr), former British Ambassador to the EU and the US; former FCO Permanent Under-Secretary
  39. Stefano Stefanini, former Italian Permanent Representative to NATO; former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Italy
  40. Sir Tony Brenton, former British Ambassador to Russia
  41. Tom McKane, former Director General for Strategy and Security Policy at the UK Ministry of Defence
  42. Dr. Klaus Wittmann, former Bundeswehr General, Senior Fellow Aspen Institute Germany
  43. Karsten Voigt, former German-American coordinator in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany; Former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  44. Lord Triesman (David Triesman), former Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom
  45. Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, serving Member of Parliament, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia
  46. Faruk Loğoğlu, former Turkish Ambassador to the US; serving member of The Grand National Assembly of Turkey
  47. Lord Wallace of Saltaire PC (William Wallace), former Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; serving member of the House of Lords
  48. Ambassador Özdem Sanberk, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
  49. Ambassador Carlo Trezza, former Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime
  50. Lord (David) Ramsbotham, Crossbench peer in the House of Lords
  51. Ambassador Henrik Salander, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary- General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission
  52. Vahit Erdem, Ambassador, former head of the Turkish Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and former Secretary General of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey
  53. Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo and former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina
  54. Ambassador Balázs Csuday, current Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Vienna
  55. Ambassador Jaakko Blomberg, former Finnish Ambassador to Canada and Estonia
  56. Ambassador Elena Poptodorova, Director of Euro-Atlantic Affairs, the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria
  57. Stefano Silvestri, President of the International Affairs Institute of Italy, consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry
  58. Professor Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  59. Mustafa Aydın, Rector of Kadir Has University (Istanbul) and President of the International Relations Council of Turkey
  60. Professor Ivo Šlaus, Croatian former member of parliament and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee
  61. Mustafa Nayyem, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament
  62. Jaakko Laajava, former Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Security Policy and Facilitator of the WMDFZ in the Middle East

This statement is published in the name only of those who have signed, and not on behalf of all of the members of the European Leadership Network.