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25 aprilie 2019 - Special reports - NATO - UE

NATO-EU political and military events/ March 2019

Ştefan Oprea

Sursă foto: Mediafax


  • The Annual Report of the Secretary General: “NATO: fit for the future”
  • The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) will have a new commander


  • The Informal Reunion of the Athens Special Committee
  • The EU – Turkey Association Council
  • The Reunion of the Foreign Affairs Council
  • The European Union reunion


  • 525 million euro for Eurodrone and other common research and industrial projects through the European defence fund


  • The Annual Report of the Secretary General: “NATO fit for the future”

Given the events that will mark the 70 years since NATO’s establishment- the reunion of Foreign Ministries from Washington D.C., in April, and the meetings of Alliance’s leaders from London, December, Alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has presented, on 14th of March, his annual report for 2018. Alliance’s major desideratum, in order to remain a pillar of stability for the future generations, was its members’ unity and the continuation of NATO’s modernization.

The reinforcement of NATO’s deterrence and defence position, cyber defence’s consolidation, international terrorism combat and partnerships depth made possible, in 2018, for the Alliance to respond to the current challenges, getting in line with tomorrow’s challenges and investing in the future.

NATO’s main responsibility, to protect and defend Alliance’s territory and nations against any attack, gets accomplished by the entire personnel, women and men, belonging to allied and partners’ countries armed forces. Under NATO’s flag, they are decided, from the North to the Mediterranean Sea and from the North Atlantic Ocean to Afghanistan, to ensure nations’ security, being the clearest and strongest expression of what the Alliance means. 

Strengthening NATO’s defence and deterrence position in the terrestrial, air, naval, spacial and cyber environment, through adapting and consolidating the proper answer against the complex and unpredictable security environment with a series of state and non-state threats and challenges, including terrorist, cyber and hybrid attacks were North-Atlantic organization’s leaders’ common concerns.

As for the security investments, the report shows that the European allies and Canada have increased their defence costs with around 4% and, between 2016 and 2018, they have contributed with a supplementary amount of more than $41 billion. Also, in 2018, seven allies of the eight which have committed to it, got to the 2% from GDP for the defence costs, comparing to 2014 when they were only 3 allies in this situation.

Alliance’s modernization was one of 2018’s main objectives, a year full of reforms for NATO. The command structure got a major adaptation through building the two Norfolk (US) and Ulm (Germany) headquarters, as well as the Cyber Operations Centre from Mons (Belgium). Also, related to modernization, the decision of the allied leaders to improve the procurement system of military capabilities through NATO will ensure the decrease of useless bureaucracy and the specific procedures complexity, as well as the process, deadlines and agreed costs’ transparency. From this point of view, NATO’s common funding will be Alliance’s stability pillar for the year to come.

NATO’s preparedness for the digital era is essentially for Alliance’s success. The digital technologies approach to ensure communication, command and control, intelligence technology services and capabilities will contribute to the coherent and effective use of intelligence technology across Alliance’s civil and military structures. Also, NATO collaborates with the industry to explore the analyses and artificial intelligence implementation, and the goal is to create and use, by 2025, a standardized set of applications for information technology and services.

Maintaining the technological advantage is Alliance’s successful key and for that NATO must continue its collaboration with the industry. A strong defence industry will stimulate innovation and produce NATO’s top capabilities. The “NATO industry” forum became an important event for the functioning of the security structures, military commanders, allies and partners, and the event hosted by Germany, in November 2018, offered a discussion platform for them and leaders from the defence industry, think-tanks and the academic environment.

Alliance’s training through exercises is an important deterrence element and contributes to developing new capabilities to show NATO’s military power against any potential enemy.

In 2018, NATO made 104 exercises, with allies and partners’ participation, diversified in terms of implementation, time and form. If we add to these the 188 national exercises associated to NATO, the report concludes that these have contributed to NATO’s deterrence position consolidation and interoperability.

As stability and security source in today’s world, NATO contributes to projecting stability through its operations, the training of partner countries’ armed forces and, not least, the political interference and dialogue. During 2018, NATO, through fighting against terrorism, the operations and missions across the Alliance, the support and reinforcement of assistances with the partners, the launch of new training missions in Iraq, the cooperation with the EU and the accession invitation of North Macedonia showed that, during this growing geopolitical tension period, the reinforcement of the political dialogue helps to stimulate the regional agreements and the expertise exchange.

As a general conclusion, the annual Report of the Secretary General shows that NATO is a growing family, and the common commitments to ensure mutual protection will ensure Alliance’s power.

The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) will have a new commander

As we were foresee in December (here), General Tod Wolters (US AF) was nominated by president Trump to be commander of the Supreme Headquarter of the Allied Power Europe (SHAPE). After NATO’s approval, the assignation needs to be confirmed by the US Senate, in order to have the position starting with May 2019. When having this position, General Wolters will also lead the US European Headquarter.

He will be the successor of General Curtis M. Scaparrotti (US Army) and will be responsible with elaborating the general directives and the development of the global military operations of NATO. All in all, General Wolters will be responsible with monitoring the NATO operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq and the implementation of summits’ decisions from Warsaw and Brussels.  He will be in charge with maintaining the Alliance’s deterrence and defence position trustable, coherent and durable, making sure that the Alliance will continue to protect the freedom and security of all allies. Also, he will continue to ease the Mil-to-Mil communication with the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Senior Deputy of the Defence Minister from the Russian Federation, to promote the military transparency and predictability in the NATO-Russia relationship.

Biographic Note: General Tod Wolters graduated the U.S Air Forces, in 1982. He started his career as pilot on the soft, attack and monitoring OV-10 aircraft, and then he became an F-15 pilot. During his career, he flew with F-22, T-38 and A-10. He participated at the Desert Storm Operation, at the wars from Iraq and Afghanistan. At the moment, in the Ramstein air base from Germany, he is commander of the US Air Forces from Europe and Africa. He is the commander of the NATO Air Forces Allied Headquarter and Director of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre. 

General Wolters will start this new position within NATO when the Alliance is getting ready for the possible disappearance of the INF Treaty, a Russian-American disarmament agreement which has protected Europe in the last three decades.

Among the challenges the new NATO commander will face is also the emergence of a potential American base in Poland, Russia’s hybrid aggression in the Balkans and the Black Sea and Ukraine’s strong lobby for a substantial military help and its will be join NATO.

Besides all of these, the European Deterrence Initiative will be another challenge for the new NATO commander, as commander of the American Forces in Europe, given that the budget dedicated to this programme will be decreased with 10% in the new financial year. The $5,9 million amount will be mostly used for the Terrestrial Forces for increasing the American military presence in Europe, supplementary exercises and training with the allies and partners, the pre-positioning improvement of the American equipment in Europe, the infrastructure improvement for training and the establishment of allied and partner’s capabilities. All of these are happening considering also that the Air Forces are investing already in important military constructions for Iceland and Poland.


On 7 and 8th of March, according to the activities calendar of Romania’s Presidency to EU’s Council, the National Defence Minister has organized, in Bucharest, the Informal Reunion of the Athens Special Committee.

Founded on 1st of March, 2004, by the EU Council, the Athens Mechanism manages the funding of the common costs related to EU’s military operations across the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The funding is being made from a special fund, through member states’ contribution with an annual rate based on the GDP.

During the reunion, the discussions were focused on aspects related to financial regulations review, especially on the correction of the public procurement procedure. During the work session, there were highlighted the lessons learned from missions and operations funding practice, as well as the recommendations after the review activities over the public procurements, recommendations which have showed the necessity of provisions for the effective financial rules of the Athena Mechanism.

The EU – Turkey Association Council

On 14th of March, in Brussels, it was held the 54th reunion of the Turkey-EU Association Council. After almost four years (18th of May 2015), the reunion of the highest decisional body between EU and Turkey reunited for the continuation and diversification of the institutional dialogue. At the reunion with the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy- the European Commission Vice-president, Federica Mogherini, there were also present Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, HE Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faruk Kaymakçı as well as Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissary for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations.

The EU-Turkey Association Council was founded accordingly with the Ankara Agreement, and it entered into force in 1st of December 1964. In 1987, Turkey has asked to join EU and the accession discussions have started in 2005. The demurrals of the Greek Cypriot administration and the opposition of Germany and France blocked these discussions until 2007. During time, the negotiations had lots of gaps and had reached the climax in 2016 (24th of November), when negotiations got suspended. The prorogation decision (it was not mandatory) was adopted by the European Parliament and was related to the concerns about respecting the human’s rights and law’s supremacy. In 2017, the EU officials have stated that the Turkish policies are breaking the Copenhagen eligibility criteria to access EU.

On 26th of June, the EU General Affairs Council has stated that “Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union. Turkey's accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen."

Across this reunion, the EU reminded Turkey the conclusions of the European Council, from March 2018, related to the Aegean Sea and the East Mediterranean Sea and has expressed European solidarity with the Republic of Cyprus about the Turkish authorities’ statements on the oil rig activity in the exclusively Cypriot economic area. Also, there were discussions on resuming the negotiations to solve Cyprus’s problem and EU has shown its availability to assist the process whenever UN thinks it can start over.

Furthermore, there were approached the political and economic criteria for Turkey’s accession to EU, the alignment to the community’s acquis, visas’ liberalization negotiations, the custom Union and the financial cooperation.

The Foreign Affairs Council Reunion

Developed on 18th of March 2019, the Foreign Affairs Council reunion overlapped with the fifth anniversary of Crimea’s illegal annexation by Russia. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Foreign Ministers have marked this event by reiterating the key-elements of the EU public position against this issue.

On this matter, the EU has repeatedly stated that it does not recognize this international right breach and it will not recognize it in the future either. EU shows solidarity to Ukraine, supporting its territorial sovereignty and integrity.

According to discussions’ agenda, the High Representative and the Foreign Ministers have congratulated the results of the third Brussels conference on supporting Syria’s future and the region as well, reaffirming EU’s support for the political process led by UN. Also, the participants expressed their concern on the humanitarian crisis from Venezuela, which continues to deteriorate, re-calling on the urgent necessity to find a way towards a political process.

The council has shared opinions regarding China and the EU-China relations, the Foreign Ministers being pleased with the common estimation made in High Representative and Commission’s common communication, entitled: “EU-China: a strategic vision”, adopted on 12th of March.

As for Republic of Moldova, the Council has discussed about the parliamentary elections results from 24th of February. The Foreign Ministers have underlined the importance of a transparent and trustable government establishment process to show the true parliamentary majority and to respect elections’ result. They have underscored the non-intervention importance in the negotiations process for the new executive and have reminded that EU does not support individual parties and particular political actors, but values and principles. The Foreign Ministers have confirmed the importance of the conditionality principle in offering macro-financial assistance, which should have been temporary stopped as consequence of the rule of law deterioration and the breach of democratic principles.

Talking about Yemen, the ministers have expressed their concerns about the lack of improvements in the serious humanitarian crisis, especially regarding the access to humanitarian help, reminding that there is no military solution to solve the conflict and the only way would be the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and all its provisions.

The reunion of the European Council

The chiefs of states and governments have reunited in Brussels, between 21 and 22 of March, across Europe’s Council. The works were led by Council’s President, Donald Tusk. In the first day of the works, the main subject of the debates was Brexit. Developed following the art. 50 format, the 27 members have evaluated the most recent evolutions related to Brexit, now, when on 29th of March 2019 will be completed the two years since Great Britain announced its EU pull-out.

The European leaders have called on the 20th of March 2019 letter of prime-minister Theresa May, wherein she was asking for Brexit’s postpone until 30th of June 2019. They have offered an extension of this period up to 22th of May 2019. The prolongation will be possible if the British parliament will approve, in the following week, the withdrawal agreement. If not, EU leaders are agreeing on postponing Brexit until 12th of April 2019 waiting for the United Kingdom to “come, before this date, with a solution”. “The European Council reiterates that it is not possible to re-discuss the withdrawal Agreement, which was agreed between the Union and the United Kingdom in November 2018.

As a response, the European Council has approved (according with art. 50), also, the tool on the Withdrawal Agreement and the Common pledge to complete the Political Declaration, agreed between the European Commission and the United Kingdom Government in Strasbourg, 11th of March 2019.

Then, the European leaders have discussed about the planning of the next summit with China, which will take place in Brussels, on 9th of April 2019. The result of the discussions will contribute to EU’s Strategic Agenda planning, which will be discussed in Sibiu, 9th of May, and adopted across the European Council from June.

The second day, the works have started with sharing perspectives with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway’s prime-ministers to mark the 25th anniversary of the European Economic Area (EEA) establishment.

The agreement on the European Economic Area was signed in 1992 in Porto, Portugal, and has entered into force on 1st of June, 1994. It envisages the implementation of the EU legislation which regulates four liberties – goods, services, people and capital’s free circulation- on the entire European Union.

Another discussion topic was the Consolidation of the EU economic base, being extremely important for Europe’s prosperity and competitiveness, as well as for its role on the international scene. Given these circumstances, the European leaders have discussed about the evolution of the unique market, the capital stock union, as well as the digital, industrial and commercial dimensions and policies across the planning process for the future strategic agenda. The European Council has addressed the priorities for the 2019 European semester, next being the approval of the Recommendation on the economic policy of the Eurozone.

Across the climatic changes topic, the discussions offered perspectives on the general directions and political priorities to allow European Union to present, by 2020, a long-term strategy accordingly with the Paris Agreement.

As for disinformation, the chiefs of states and governments have estimated the recorded progresses in disinformation combat and the necessity to defend the democratic integrity of the European and national elections throughout EU.


525 million euro for Eurodrone and other common research and industrial projects through the European defence fund

The European Union has adopted, on 19th of March, some work programs to co-fund common defence industrial programmes between 2019 and 2020, worth up to 500 million euro. Other 25 million euro were allocated to support the effective research projects, in collaboration, for 2019. Through these decisions, the Commission launches the first common defence industrial programme funded by EU through the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP) in: technologies for drones’ construction, satellite communication, early warning systems, artificial intelligence, maritime surveillance and cyber defence.

The European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP), agreed with the EU countries, foresees the co-funding with 500 million euro for the common development of defence capacities between 2019 and 2020.

In the following days, the Commission will publish 9 proposals calls for 2019, and 12 new calls for 2020. These calls will cover uppermost fields in all domains: air, terrestrial, maritime, cyber and space:

  • Ensure military forces’ operations, protection and mobility (80 million euro available to help the development of CBRN detection threats capabilities or contraband systems);
  • Intelligence, secured and cyber communication: 192 million euro will cover the cyber and defence situation awareness, the surveillance capacity of the space situations and the early warning or the maritime surveillance capacities;
  • The ability to develop high-end operations: 71 million will support the modernization of the future high-precision terrestrial strike capabilities, land fight capabilities, air fight capabilities and future naval systems development;
  • Innovative defence technologies and SMEs support: 27 million euro will support the solutions in artificial intelligence technologies, virtual and cyber reality, as well as SMEs support;
  • Furthermore, there were proposed two projects for direct funding: 100 million euro to support Eurodrone’s development, a crucial capacity for Europe’s strategic autonomy and 37 million euro to support ESSOR (European Security Software Defined Radio) interoperable and safe military communications.