Jens Stoltenberg: After Brexit, NATO Is Moving Closer to the EU

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, June 15, 2016There is no denying that the world has become more dangerous in recent years.

Moscow’s actions in Ukraine have shaken the European security order. Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has unleashed a host of challenges, not least the largest refugee and migrant crisis since the Second World War. We face security challenges of a magnitude and complexity much greater than only a few years ago. Add to that the uncertainty surrounding “Brexit”—the consequences of which are unclear—and it is easy to be concerned about the future.

And yet there are many reasons to be confident. While it is for the U.K. and EU to chart their future relationship Britain’s position in the Alliance is unchanged. The U.K. will continue to play an essential role in NATO—and hence in Euro-Atlantic security. This is important because the U.K. is a major contributor. British defence spending represents almost a quarter of what European Allies spend in total. The U.K. will lead one of four battalions to be deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to bolster our ability to defend Alliance territory. And Britain’s world-class diplomats and military personnel are helping—and will continue to help—guide NATO forward….

The peace we have enjoyed in Europe for so long—and from which the United States itself benefits—owes a debt to two enduring organisations: NATO and the EU.

Historically, there has been a reluctance for the two to work together. But that is changing. I regularly attend EU Summits—as I did earlier this week [June 28]—and President Tusk and President Juncker will both attend next week’s NATO Summit. In fact, NATO and the EU have reached more agreements in the past few months than in the entire previous decade. Cooperating in the Aegean Sea, for example, we have helped to break the lines of illegal migration, and in the future we will be working much more closely on resilience, cyber-defence and countering hybrid warfare.

Neither NATO nor the EU are entirely equipped with the tools to tackle the unprecedented security challenges we face. But, together, we are a formidable partnership. And that partnership is strengthening day by day and has become even more important in the wake of the U.K. referendum.

Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO.

Image: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, June 15, 2016 (photo: NATO)