Select Committee on Defence Seventh Report


86. One of the three focuses of the Prague Summit, along with 'new members' and 'new capabilities' will be 'new partners'. The MoD believes that the Alliance must build for the future at Prague, by 'developing new relationships with NATO's partners, and building on the transformed relationship with Russia following the Rome Summit'.[71] NATO believes it is important to focus on the benefits of partnership as well as membership: there are a number of countries which are important to NATO and with which it needs to co-operate but which will never be members. Working with partners is increasingly becoming one of NATO's principal strengths, as we now discuss.

The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC)

87. The first formal acknowledgement by NATO of the changed global security situation arising from the end of the Cold War came in 1990 in the London Declaration on a Transformed North Atlantic Alliance which set out a plan for developing co-operation between NATO and its former adversaries. This was followed by a New Strategic Concept, adopted at the Rome Summit in 1991 and the establishment of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council (NACC) at the end of the year, as a means of establishing co-operation and dialogue, and breaking down divisions, with former Soviet bloc countries. The NACC became the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in 1997. It now brings together 27 partner countries with the 19 Allies, in regular meetings at ministerial, ambassadorial and Chief of Defence level. Its membership, in addition to the ten current NATO applicants, includes Austria, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Ukraine, and countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia.[72]

Partnership for Peace (PfP)

88. The Partnership for Peace (PfP) process was set up in 1994 as a means of developing individual programmes of practical defence and security co-operation, to build on the political co-operation in the NACC (now the EAPC). Its aims are to promote transparency in defence planning and budgeting, and democratic control of the military, and to develop the capacity for joint activity between NATO and partner countries in peace-keeping and other operations. The Partnership Framework Document includes the commitment by the Allies to consult bilaterally with any partner country which fears a direct threat to its territory, its political independence or its security. The PfP works on the basis of individual Partnership Programmes between NATO and partner countries tailored to each country's needs and interests, drawing from a wide range of possible activities, from large military exercises to related activities such as crisis management and civil emergency planning.

89. Participation in the Partnership for Peace is, for some countries, a precursor to the membership process but it is equally valuable in its own right in increasing stability and strengthening NATO's relationships with countries which border, or are strategically important to, its territory. In the applicant countries we visited, we were told of the value placed on the PfP process. Dr Honig believed that one of NATO's key tasks, through the PfP, was—

... the enlargement, the building of this security community in Europe in which every country in Europe will have transparent civil military relations, transparent budgets, where everything in the security defence field is done properly according to modern-day, democratic standards ...[73]

The Mediterranean Dialogue

90. NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue began in 1994 as a means of engaging the countries of the southern Mediterranean and promoting good relations with and between them. Six countries initially joined: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Algeria followed in 2000. The seven countries participate in a range of activities, including courses at NATO colleges on such issues as peace-keeping, arms control and civil-military co-operation in emergency planning. The southern Mediterranean region faces instability from a number of sources: most obviously the Israel-Palestinian conflict; but also from fundamentalist movements; the possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and what the NATO Secretary General described as 'its many unresolved political, social and religious questions'.[74] The region is important to NATO, to Europe and to global energy security because of its geographical location.

91. The Mediterranean Dialogue is regarded by some, including a number of the participants, as lacking impetus and focus. At the Washington Summit in 1999, NATO leaders agreed to enhance the Dialogue in both political and practical areas, but little real progress was made. At the Reykjavik Summit, NATO leaders agreed—

... to upgrade the political and practical dimensions of our Mediterranean Dialogue, including by consulting with Mediterranean partners on security matters of common concern, including terrorism-related issues ...

in an effort to give the process fresh impetus by the time of the Prague Summit.[75] We believe that, given the importance of the region's stability and its potential to assist in combating international terrorism, NATO should place a higher priority than it has done previously on revitalising the Mediterranean Dialogue and that the UK government should be active in pushing for progress in this area.

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

92. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (formerly known as the North Atlantic Assembly) was established in 1955 as a forum in which parliamentarians from each of the NATO member countries can discuss issues of common interest. Since the end of the Cold War its membership has broadened to include former Soviet bloc countries: 17 Partner countries have associate delegate status in the Assembly.[76] Delegates are nominated by their national parliament, on the basis of party representation. The Assembly meets twice a year in plenary session. There are six committees which meet regularly and report to the plenary: political; defence and security; economics and security; science and technology; the civilian dimension of security; and the Mediterranean special group. Recommendations of the Assembly are sent to the Secretary General, who formulates a reply, based on discussions in the NAC.[77] We believe that the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has played an important role in providing a democratic, parliamentary dimension to the Alliance and in strengthening links with partner countries. With its membership of parliamentarians, it has been particularly well-placed to encourage democratic reform and has been at the forefront of raising issues before they have been taken up by NATO itself, notably on co-operation with central and eastern European governments, and the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative. We would welcome better inter-relationship between the work of all of the parliamentary assemblies and national parliaments.



93. Russia was a founding member of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council (now the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council) and joined the Partnership for Peace process in 1994. The next significant development in NATO-Russia relations came in May 1997, when the Russian Federation and NATO agreed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Co-operation and Security, which acknowledged that the two sides were no longer adversaries and set up the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) as a forum for discussion. Its aim was to be a focus of efforts to 'build confidence, overcome misperceptions and develop a pattern of regular consultations and co-operation'.[78] It has met on a monthly basis at ambassadorial and military representative level and twice yearly at ministerial and Chief of Staff and Chief of Defence level. The Russian Federation formally established a mission at NATO headquarters, and appointed a senior Military Representative, in March 1998. The range of issues on the PJC's agenda was wide, including the situation in the former Yugoslavia, proliferation of WMD, and combating terrorism.

94. It would be fair to say that the PJC has not been assessed as being particularly effective. The Secretary of State described its meetings as 'not tremendously exciting' and told us that—

Both sides ... simply set out their positions. In a way, Russia saw itself as the inheritor of the mantle of the Soviet Union and, therefore, engaged in a dialogue with NATO. What is significant about the way in which NATO functions at NATO council meetings is that sovereign nations sit around the table ... and whether it is Luxembourg or the United States, they set out their views.[79]

During the Kosovo conflict, co-operation within the PJC broke down completely.[80]


95. President Putin's decision to offer Russia's support to the United States following the terrorist attacks of 11 September, and the subsequent significant improvement in relations, contributed to a new impetus to improve NATO's relations with Russia. At the Reykjavik Summit in May, NATO leaders welcomed 'the decisive and substantial deepening of the NATO-Russia relationship' and at a meeting of the PJC the same day, its successor, the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was created. NATO and Russian Heads of State and Government then met at a further summit in Rome on 28 May 2002 formally to establish the NRC.

96. The main difference between the NRC and its predecessor is that the NRC is intended to enable Russia to participate in discussions as an equal partner, as one participant among 20 (often referred to as 'NATO at 20'), rather than the previous format of 19 NATO members meeting as a body with Russia ('19 + 1'). One of the main obstacles to the effective working of the PJC has therefore been removed, although it remains to be seen whether proper discussions 'at 20' will be a reality. Russia will not have a veto on NATO decisions.

97. The NRC's programme of meetings will be similar to that of the PJC: it will meet twice a year at foreign minister and defence minister level, at ambassadorial level at least once a month, and at head of state or government level when necessary, with the NATO Secretary General taking the chair. Chiefs of Staff meetings will be arranged at least twice a year, and meetings of military representatives at least once a month. A Preparatory Committee has been set up at NATO Political Committee level, which will meet every two weeks to prepare for meetings. Support will be provided by the NATO-Russia Staff Support Working Group, made up of members of NATO's international staff and the Russian NATO mission. Committees and working groups of the Council will be established as necessary.[81] A NATO Military Liaison Mission was established in Moscow at the end of May, to work alongside the NATO Information Office set up in February 2001. We met members of both during our visit to Moscow.

98. The main areas on which the Council has agreed to focus are—


crisis management


arms control

theatre missile defence

civil emergencies

military co-operation and defence reform

new threats and challenges

search and rescue at sea.[82]

The Secretary of State believed that the effectiveness of the NRC would be assessed on whether progress was made on these items, and whether new subjects could then be added to the list.[83] Professor Heisbourg also took the view that the test of its effectiveness would be whether its agenda was broadening or narrowing—

If you end up talking about the fishery quotas in the Barents Sea as the sole topic, then you know it is a failure.[84]

That 'the proof of the pudding will be in the eating' has been frequently quoted to us, both by academic witnesses[85] and in Moscow. We encountered a considerable amount of residual suspicion of NATO from some of those we met in Russia and the potential certainly exists on both sides to prevent the NRC being productive. William Hopkinson told us—

The scene is set for it being a worthwhile thing but either the Russians or some members of NATO could frustrate it.[86]

The MoD's view is that the Allies and Russia 'need to approach the new Council in an active spirit of co-operation'.[87] Those we met informally at NATO headquarters were optimistic but realistic about the NRC's prospects.

99. The developments in NATO-Russia relations, particularly since 11 September, have been exciting and promise a great deal. We shall be watching their progress with interest. Despite the disappointment of the PJC, NATO is right to take this opportunity to test Russia's willingness to engage constructively in important common security issues. And, correspondingly, NATO should be wary of giving the impression of any 'pre-cooking' of decisions.


100. Ukraine, as Europe's largest country,[88] has an important role in European and regional security and has therefore been given special attention by NATO since the end of the Cold War. Building on Ukraine's participation in Partnership for Peace, a Charter on a Distinctive Partnership was signed at the Madrid Summit in 1997, which formally recognised the importance of an independent, stable and democratic Ukraine and established the NATO-Ukraine Commission. This was followed by a memorandum of understanding on civil emergency planning later in the year and the establishment of both a NATO information centre and a NATO liaison office in Kyiv.

101. Following the announcement at Reykjavik of the creation of the NATO-Russia Council, the Ukrainian government declared for the first time, on 24 May 2002, its objective of future accession to NATO. The MoD's view is that Ukraine 'is still well short' of the criteria of a stable democracy, a market economy and a reformed defence sector which are necessary for any potential applicant. It points to particular concerns about press freedom and the supply of heavy weapons to Macedonia, which were discussed at the NATO-Ukraine ministerial meeting in Reykjavik.[89] The final communiqué from the Reykjavik summit referred to giving 'new impetus and substance' to NATO's partnership with Ukraine, through intensified consultations and co-operation on political, economic and defence issues. A meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at Permanent Representative (ambassadorial) level took place on 8-10 July.

102. Professor Heisbourg believed that the real question about enlargement was not the present round but 'what we do next and notably what we do with this enormous chunk and rather, difficult, awkward chunk which is Ukraine'.[90] Other witnesses agreed that deciding how to deal with Ukraine would be 'tricky' for NATO, particularly now that the new relationship with Russia left Ukraine in a category of its own.[91] Charles Grant's view was that Ukraine should not be given any special treatment by NATO beyond what was already in place, given its 'sub-optimal democratic credentials'.[92] The Secretary of State believed that Ukraine should be encouraged to proceed with reform, and that its intention to work towards NATO membership provided a path for this, which the UK would support.[93]


103. Belarus has been a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and a participant in Partnership for Peace since 1995. Dr Honig believed that, in a similar way to Ukraine, if NATO failed to engage properly with Belarus, it would leave a 'black hole' in the European security community, which could lead to problems, particularly given the recent improvement in relations between NATO and Russia.[94] But it is also incumbent on Belarus to change its attitudes. It has, for example, shown few signs of moving towards proper democratic principles and its most recent parliamentary and presidential elections were deeply flawed and failed to meet OSCE commitments.[95]

104. We believe in the value of NATO engaging constructively with partner countries which are still some way from being considered ready to join the membership process. Ukraine and Belarus are two of the key countries in this category, and we believe NATO should continue to use a targeted approach, as well as the means provided through the Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, further to develop this engagement.

NATO and the EU

105. Our predecessors in the last Parliament assessed in some detail the background to, and development of, the European Security and Defence Policy and its consequences for NATO.[96] We discuss here the key points of the policy, as they relate to NATO, and the developments which have taken place in the last two years.


106. In advance of the EU's involvement in security and defence issues, the Western European Union (WEU) had provided a forum for discussion on these matters. It began life in the 1950s, when several European countries[97] were considering the establishment of a European Defence Community. For most of its existence, the WEU lacked any real role or impetus, until 1991, when the Maastricht Treaty designated the WEU as the body which the EU would use to 'elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications'.[98] At the WEU ministerial meeting at the Petersberg Hotel near Bonn which followed, in 1992, appropriate missions for the WEU to undertake in the context of the European 'pillar' of NATO were defined (and were subsequently known as the 'Petersberg tasks'). These were: humanitarian and rescue missions; peacekeeping; peacemaking; and crisis management. Meanwhile, WEU membership increased to take in Associate Members and Associate Partners, which included non-EU NATO members and former Soviet bloc countries, and its status as a link between NATO and the EU grew.


107. The possibility of a European Union 'common defence policy' was referred to in the 1991 Maastricht Treaty as part of the European Union's Common European Security and Defence Policy.[99] The initiative first gained substance in a declaration by the UK and France, on 4 December 1998, following a summit meeting in St. Mâlo between the two countries, which stated that—

... the European Union will ... need to have recourse to suitable military means (European capabilities pre-designated within NATO's European pillar or national or multinational European means outside the NATO framework).

This proposal was then developed at the Helsinki European Council meeting in 1999, where it was announced that agreement had been reached on—

... developing the Union's military and non-military crisis management capability as part of a strengthened common European policy on security and defence.

The member states expressed their—

... determination to develop an autonomous capacity to take decisions and, where NATO as a whole is not engaged, to launch and conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crises.[100]

Further details of the plans were given in the Presidency Report, adopted at the Council—


... by the year 2003, cooperating together voluntarily, they [the member states] will be able to deploy rapidly and then sustain forces capable of the full range of Petersberg tasks as set out in the Amsterdam Treaty, including the most demanding, in operations up to corps level (up to 15 brigades or 50,000-60,000 persons). These forces should be self-sustaining with the necessary command, control and intelligence capabilities, logistics, other combat support services and additionally, as appropriate, air and naval elements. Member States should be able to deploy in full at this level within 60 days, and within this provide smaller rapid response elements available and deployable at very high readiness. They must be able to sustain such a deployment for at least one year.[101]

This proposed capability has since been known as the Helsinki Headline Goal. The Helsinki Summit also agreed that EU institutions would be established for the political and strategic control of the force, in the form of a Political and Security Committee, a Military Committee, and a Military Staff.


108. Over the same period, a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) was being developed within NATO aimed at 'reinforcing' NATO's European pillar, enabling it to 'respond to European requirements and at the same time contribute to Alliance security'.[102] NATO members agreed at the Brussels Summit of 1994 that NATO assets would be made available for WEU operations undertaken by European Allies as part of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.[103] The NATO Berlin Summit of 1996 identified 'separable but not separate capabilities, assets and support assets ... HQs, HQ elements and command positions',[104] as NATO assets which could be used by European Allies in undertaking Petersberg tasks, under WEU's political control. The principle of European use of NATO assets was further developed in what is known as the 'Berlin-plus' arrangements agreed between NATO and the EU at the Washington Summit in April 1999, which stated that there would be a 'presumption of availability' of NATO assets for the EU. Following the Helsinki declaration at the end of that year, the EU took over political control of Petersberg operations from the WEU.

109. The same national assets of individual EU and NATO members would be drawn on for missions, regardless of which organisation was leading the mission. An essential element of the development of the ESDI is the improvement of European military capabilities, which overlaps both with NATO's own Defence Capabilities Initiative, and with the EU's aim of developing the military capability of its members. We discuss this below (paragraphs 129-130).


110. The ESDP's success relies on the guarantee of availability of key NATO assets. The declaration made at the European Council summit at Laeken in December 2001 noted, however, that the EU and NATO were yet to finalise the 'presumption of availability of pre-identified assets and capabilities of NATO'.[105]

111. The Helsinki summit declaration envisaged a role for European non-EU NATO members (Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Turkey)[106] 'to contribute to EU military crisis management'.[107] An issue arises of the ability of non-EU NATO members to veto use of NATO assets if they object to a particular EU operation. In attempting to come to agreement on this, difficulties have arisen from Turkey's attitude, as a NATO member, and a country aspiring to EU membership, and that of Greece, a member of both the EU and NATO, against the background of the long-standing difficult relationship between the two countries. The present situation appears to be an impasse: Turkey's reservations seem to have been overcome within NATO; but this has failed to carry over into agreement within the EU because of continuing objections from Greece.

112. When we visited Brussels in January we had meetings with political and military representatives of both EU and NATO. Both sides told us that the EU and NATO were complementary and that, despite the lack of formal agreement on use of assets, there was extensive informal co-operation. NATO's relations with the EU is one of the agenda items for the Prague Summit. At Reykjavik, NATO leaders reaffirmed their 'commitment to achieving a close, transparent and coherent NATO-EU relationship and went on—

The events of 11 September have underlined the importance of enhanced co-operation between the two organisations on questions of common interest relating to security, defence and crisis management ... Important work remains to be done on the arrangements for NATO support to EU-led operations .. We remain determined to make progress on all the various aspects of our relationship, noting the need to find solutions satisfactory to all Allies on the issue of participation by non-EU European Allies.[108]

It is time that progress was made on the question of use of NATO assets for EU-led operations. The UK, as a leading member of both organisations, has been active, with the support of the United States, in brokering an agreement with Turkey, which Greece is now refusing to accept, apparently for domestic political reasons. Greece now has twelve months of effective Presidency of the EU on defence matters (as Denmark will not deal with defence matters under its Presidency).[109] A question which needs to be answered during that time is whether the present impasse in fact demonstrates the unsoundness of the ESDP in principle. If this is not the case, the Greek government must be persuaded to resolve its internal problems and allow the agreement between NATO and the EU on use of NATO assets to be formalised.

71   Ev 32, paragraph 3 Back

72   The full list of EAPC countries is: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan.


73   Q 17 Back

74   Speech to RUSI Conference on NATO and Mediterranean Security, 29 April 2002 Back

75   Reykjavik Communiqué, op cit, paragraph 15 Back

76   Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine. Back

77   See NATO Handbook 2001, op cit, Chapter 16 Back

78   NATO Handbook, op cit, Chapter 3 Back

79   Q 223 Back

80   Q 128 Back

81   Ev 38, paragraphs 52-53. See also Declaration by Heads of State and Government of NATO Member States and the Russian Federation, Rome, 28 May 2002 Back

82   Ev 38, paragraph 50 Back

83   Q 223 Back

84   Q 68 Back

85   Q 66 Back

86   Q 66 Back

87   Ev 38, paragraph 51 Back

88   Or second largest, depending on whether Russia is assessed as being a wholly European country. Back

89   Ev 39, paragraph 56 Back

90   Q 1 Back

91   QQ 6-7 Back

92   Q 130 Back

93   QQ 233-234 Back

94   Q 7 Back

95   See Belarus Parliamentary Elections, 15 and 29 October 2000, OSCE Technical Assessment Mission Final Report, 30 January 2001 and Republic of Belarus. Presidential Election, 9 September 2001,OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission, Final Report, Revised Version, 4 October 2001, available on Back

96   Eighth Report from the Defence Committee, Session 1999-2000, European Security and Defence, HC 264 Back

97   Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and West Germany. Spain and Portugal joined the WEU in 1990 Back

98   Treaty on European Union, OJC 191, 27 July 1992, Article J4, paragraph 2 Back

99   Also known as the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) Back

100   Declaration of the Helsinki European Council, December 1999, paragraphs 25 and 27 Back

101   European Union Document 20699, 24 November 1999, Presidency Progress Report to the Helsinki European Council on Strengthening of the Common European Policy Security on Security and Defence.  Back

102   NATO Handbook, op cit, Chapter 4 Back

103   Declaration of the 1994 NATO Brussels Summit, paragraphs 5 and 6 Back

104   Declaration of the 1996 NATO Berlin Summit, paragraph 7 Back

105   Presidency Conclusions of the European Council Meeting in Laeken, 14 and 15 December 2001, Annex II Declaration on the operational capability of the Common European Security and Defence Policy  Back

106   The other country in this group, Iceland, does not have deployable armed forces. Back

107   HC 264, Session 1999-2000, op cit, paragraph 69 Back

108   Reykjavik Communiqué, op cit, paragraph 16 Back

109   See Politics hamper EU-NATO accord, Jane's Defence Weekly, 24 July 2002 Back

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