NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg briefed media on Tuesday (13 February 2018) on the agenda of this week’s meetings of NATO Defence Ministers. On Wednesday and Thursday, Allies will take decisions to prepare for the Summit of NATO leaders in July. Ministers will address a range of issues, including NATO’s Command Structure, fair burden-sharing, cooperation with the EU, and the Alliance’s role in projecting stability and fighting terrorism.
On Wednesday, ministers will take decisions to modernise the NATO Command Structure. They are expected to agree to establish a new Joint Force Command for the Atlantic, and a new support command to improve the rapid movement of troops and equipment within Europe.
Fair burden-sharing will also be high on the agenda. In 2014, Allies agreed to move towards spending 2% of GDP on defence; invest more in key capabilities and equipment; and to contribute personnel to NATO missions and operations.
The Secretary General stressed that Allies are stepping up in all three areas – cash, capabilities and contributions. “In 2014, only 3 Allies spent 2% of GDP or more on defence. This year we expect 8 Allies to meet the target,” he said. Mr. Stoltenberg added that European Allies and Canada have also invested 19 billion US dollars more on major equipment over the last three years.
Later on Wednesday, Ministers will discuss NATO-EU cooperation and the EU’s efforts on defence. They will be joined by the EU High Representative / Vice President Federica Mogherini, and representatives from Finland and Sweden.
On Thursday, ministers will focus on NATO’s deterrence and defence posture, and the Alliance’s role in projecting stability and fighting terrorism. “I expect that we will agree to start planning for a NATO training mission in Iraq, with the aim of launching the mission at our Summit in July,” said the Secretary General. He stressed that strengthening local forces is one of the best means to fight terrorism.
As part of their discussion, Ministers will also address the Alliance’s broader approach to the South, and how best to respond to the security challenges emanating from the Middle East and North Africa.