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EU-NATO cooperation constitutes an integral pillar of the EU’s work aimed at strengthening European security and defence, as part of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy. It also contributes to Trans-Atlantic burden sharing. A stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing.
A new era of interaction
On 8 July 2016, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, together with the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization signed a Joint Declaration in Warsaw with a view to giving new impetus and new substance to the EU-NATO strategic partnership. It outlined seven concrete areas where cooperation between the two organisations should be enhanced: 1. countering hybrid threats; 2. operational cooperation including at sea and on migration; 3. cyber security and defence; 4. defence capabilities; 5. defence industry and research; 6. exercises; 7. supporting Eastern and Southern partners' capacity-building efforts.
On the basis of the mandate by the Joint Declaration, common sets of proposals were endorsed by the EU and NATO Councils in December 2016 and 2017. Altogether 74 concrete actions are under implementation in the seven areas (see list). Three progress reports have been submitted highlighting main achievements and added value of EU-NATO cooperation in different areas.
Cooperation between the EU and NATO is now the established norm and daily practice and continues to take place on the basis of key guiding principles: openness, transparency, inclusiveness and reciprocity, in full respect of the decision-making autonomy and procedures of both organisations without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member State.
Rapid progress in the seven areas of cooperation
20 out of the 74 current proposals for cooperation are focussed on countering hybrid threats. The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats effectively contributes to strengthening EU-NATO cooperation in this area. EU and NATO personnel have participated in the Centre's activities to develop a better understanding of hybrid threats and the options to counter them in a coordinated way.
Operational cooperation including maritime issues
EU and NATO staffs are engaged in exploring modalities to enhance coordination, complementarity and cooperation in the maritime domain. Staffs regularly exchange ideas in the meetings of the mechanism on Shared Awareness and De-Confliction in the Mediterranean (SHADE MED), as the main forum for sharing information and coordination of efforts.
Active interaction at staff level is proceeding in the field of cyber on concepts and doctrines, existing and planned training and education courses, threat indicators, ad-hoc exchanges of threat alerts and assessments, cross-briefings, including on the cyber aspects of crisis management and regular meetings.
Efforts continue to ensure coherence of output between the planning instruments and processes, namely the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the European Defence Fund (EDF), the EU Capability Development Plan, the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and respective NATO processes such as the NATO Defence Planning Process (NDPP) and the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process. Coherence and synergies between NATO and EU efforts are being made to improve military mobility.
Defence industry and research
EU and NATO staffs continue the dialogue on industry matters, which includes regular updates on related NATO and EU activities. Special focus lies for example on Small and Medium Enterprises' access to defence supply chain and innovation, or industry engagement in specific areas.
During a first parallel and coordinated exercise in October 2017, EU and NATO trained and tested their mechanisms and practical cooperation to respond to crises, in particular in a hybrid context. The next such exercise is planned for November 2018.
Supporting partners' capacity building
Assisting partners in building their capacities and fostering resilience, in particular in the Western Balkans, and in our Eastern and Southern neighbourhood is a common objective. Information exchange, including informal staff-to-staff political consultations on the three pilot countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Moldova and Tunisia) has intensified.
The second progress report of December 2017 highlighted a financing decision by the EU to allocate €2 million for 2017 as a contribution to the NATO Building Integrity Programme, which aims at reducing the risk of corruption and promoting good governance in the defence and security sector. This financing is pending completion of a six-pillar assessment.
Strengthening political dialogue between EU and NATO
The established practice of mutual invitations to relevant ministerial meetings continued. Reciprocal cross-briefings on issues of mutual interest have become more frequent.