European Parliament calls for stronger EU-NATO relations

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MEPs called for a stronger strategic partnership between the EU and the Atlantic Alliance. “A reinvigorated strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is essential to meet the security challenges facing Europe and its neighbourhood”, says the report by Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, Spain), which was adopted by 493 votes to 90
with 103 abstentions.

The European Parliament believes that the transatlantic community can only succeed in meeting today’s challenges by strengthening cooperation and taking the partnership to a higher level.

Welcoming the progress made in the 74 joint action proposals, the MEPs consider that more political support is needed to ensure their full implementation and call for the establishment of flagship projects to strengthen ownership and make cooperation more tangible and result-oriented. “Preserving political cohesion and unity and strengthening political consultation must be priorities for the EU-NATO partnership in order to better address common challenges”, they added.

New US administration favouring further EU engagement

A new report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Biden administration is also pushing the EU to become a global military power — and for the U.S. to stop limiting European ambitions. The Centre said that Europe’s military strength today is far weaker than the sum of its parts. This is not just a European failure; it is also fundamentally a failure of America’s post-Cold War strategy toward Europe—a strategy that remains virtually unchanged since the 1990s.

Germany and the Netherlands are thought to be behind a movement for stronger EU-NATO ties. A recent paper reported on by Politico and drafted by German and Dutch diplomats, said that “an ambitious strengthening of NATO-EU cooperation is urgently needed,” adding that “we should seize this opportunity and embark on a journey towards joint leverage, which will benefit the EU and NATO” countries, “irrespectively of whether they are members of the EU, NATO, or both organizations.”

The Maltese dimension

Such developments could provide an interesting situation for Malta, due to its traditional neutrality concerns. In Declaration 35 of the Treaty of Accession, Malta had affirmed its commitment to the Common Foreign and Security Policy as set out in the Treaty on European Union. However, the declaration also affirmed that Malta’s participation in the CFSP did not prejudice its neutrality because, any European Council decision to move to a common defence would have to be unanimous and had to “be adopted by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements”. The European Council on Foreign Relations had noticed that the apparent contradiction between neutrality and EU mutual defence characterised Malta’s parliamentary debates both on the draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe and the Lisbon Treaty, with Government takng the understanding that the Constitutional Treaty “does not prejudice Malta’s constitutional neutrality.

EP looks at Western Balkans

The report also stresses the importance of cooperation between the two organisations in the Western Balkans, the instability in the southern and eastern regions, and the need to counteract malicious foreign interference in these areas. The Parliament sees the work on the EU Strategic Compass and the update of the Alliance’s Strategic Concept “as a unique opportunity to define clear priorities and identify further synergies to strengthen the transatlantic link and EU/NATO cooperation”.

Finally, in the Parliament’s view, a strong partnership between the EU and the US is essential for successful EU-NATO cooperation. The Parliament welcomed the new US Administration’s commitment to engage with EU and Alliance partners in all areas.