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When searching for information on this topic, potentially useful keywords to use include :

  • NATO-EU relations OR cooperation
  • comprehensive approach
  • "Berlin-Plus" arrangements

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    This LibGuide includes links to content found on the web (e.g. websites, news & blogs, reports, etc.) as well as a select number of articles and books available from the NATO Multimedia Library.

    Please note that this is not a comprehensive collection of material on the topic. The selection criteria for the websites and documents included was based on each item's currency and relevancy to this topic. 

    Furthermore, quick search boxes for online databases subscribed by the Library (available to staff working at NATO HQ) as well as links to the library catalog are available for you to locate additional resources.


    "90% of the European Union’s citizens are also citizens of NATO Allies" (NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on 23 February 2016)

    "A strong Europe provides a strong NATO.”  (NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on 10 October 2016)

    "By cooperating closer than ever, the EU and NATO are making a profound difference to the welfare and security of the many millions of people we exist to serve and protect. We owe them nothing less." (President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 13 December 2016)

    "Cooperation is now the norm, not the exception” (NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on 3 May 2017)

    The decision to cooperate on security issues goes back to January 2001 "when the NATO Secretary General and the EU Presidency exchanged letters defining the scope of cooperation and the modalities of consultation between the two organisations." (Source: Berlin Plus Agreement)

    "On 3 June 1996, at its Ministerial Meeting in Berlin, the North Atlantic Council decides to adapt the Alliance’s structures so as to build a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO. In particular, the development of the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) should enable Europeans to make use of separable but not separate NATO military capabilities in Western European Union (WEU) operations." (Final Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council on building a European Security and Defence Identity - Berlin, 3 June 1996)

    The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) was launched at the European Council in Cologne in June 1999. The ESDP was transformed into the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in 2007. The change occurred with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty (2009). Under the Treaty of Lisbon, a mutual defence clause was created, which is a key element of the CSDP.

    The Berlin Plus agreement refers to a comprehensive package of arrangements adopted on 17 March 2003 by NATO and the EU,  based on conclusions of the NATO Washington Summit (June 1999). This framework provides "the basis for NATO-EU cooperation in crisis management by allowing the European Union to have access to NATO's collective assets and capabilities for EU-led operations, including command arrangements and assistance in operational planning. In effect, they allow the Alliance to support EU-led operations in which NATO as a whole is not engaged." (Source: "NATO’s relations with the European Union" (9 April 2009). "A key aspect of “Berlin plus” is that [...] the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, who is always a European, would command such an operation." (Source: Common Security and Defence Policy)

    Allied leaders agreed at the Lisbon Summit (November 2010) to enhance NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach to crisis management as part of the international community’s effort. In May 2013, Secretary General stressed need for deeper NATO-EU cooperation (6 May 2013)

    On his first day as head of the 28-nation military alliance (1 October 2014), NATO's new Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO will work towards closer cooperation with the European Union: "We are covering very much the same geographical area," he said, adding that closer cooperation is particularly important for non-EU members. (Source: Press Conference by incoming NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, 1 Oct 2014).

    On 30 March 2015, while addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg outlined three areas where he sees great potential for increased cooperation between NATO and the European Union. The first area is about “building resilience together, by strengthening our defence in facing new threats such as for instance hybrid warfare.” The second area is about “building resilience together with our neighbors, - in the east and the south.” The third area is on “defence investment.” (Source: Secretary General: NATO and the EU can achieve more if we work more closely together, 30 March 2015)

    On 17 November 2015, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says: "To fight terrorism, extremism, is a complex challenge and therefore we need a comprehensive approach. We need military means, we need political means, we need diplomatic efforts. And that’s also the reason why it’s important that NATO and the European Union cooperate closely." (See also "Special address by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the annual European Defence Agency (EDA) conference", 17 Nov 2015)

    During the Foreign Ministers Meeting on 1 December 2015, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that NATO and the European Union would develop their cooperation in three particular areas: 1) in addressing hybrid threats, 2) in helping partners to become more capable of securing themselves in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa, 3) in boosting the capabilities of European allies. (Press Statements by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, 2 Dec 2015).

    NATO and the European Union face similar challenges in protecting their networks against the growing threat of cyber attacks. On 10 February 2016, both organizations decided to enhance cyber defence cooperation.

    According to Mr. Stoltenberg, 2016 will be “a big year” for the NATO-EU relationship: "June’s European Council and the NATO Summit in July would be key opportunities to strengthen our unity and practical cooperation even further." (NATO, 23 February 2016)

    Visiting The Hague on 8 April 2016 NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow addressed the EU Inter-parliamentary Conference on the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy with a focus on how NATO could cooperate more closely with partners and with the European Union (NATO, Deputy Secretary General Vershbow calls for even closer NATO-EU cooperation) .

    On the occasion of the meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers (20 May 2016), NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg identified key areas for expanding NATO-EU cooperation: "supporting our partners in defence capacity building, and increasing maritime security. Second, we are developing new Playbooks to enable our organisations to closely coordinate when facing hybrid threats. On key issues such as information sharing, civil preparedness, cyber, and strategic communications. And third, we need to step up our readiness by exercising more together."

    Following the results of the UK's EU referendum and the decision of the British people to leave the European Union, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "The Alliance remains committed to closer cooperation with the European Union." (NATO Secretary General’s statement on the outcome of the British referendum on the EU, 24 June 2016).

    On 28 June 2016, the European External Action Service (EEAS) published its new EU Global Strategy for the EU's Foreign & Security Policy (Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe - A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy). The report says:" The EU will step up its contribution to Europe’s collective security, working closely with its partners, beginning with NATO." (p. 9).

    At the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization issued a Joint NATO-EU Declaration:“Unity and cooperation between NATO and the European Union remains as important as ever. In these times of uncertainty our partnership is increasingly essential." (Joint Declaration, 8 July 2016).

    On 27 October 2016, the NATO Allied Defence Ministers discussed practical steps to take forward NATO’s cooperation with the European Union: "We decided to continue our Aegean deployment,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Allies also decided that NATO’s new Operation Sea Guardian would support the EU’s Operation Sophia. (Defence Ministers take forward NATO-EU cooperation, 27 October 2016)

    Acting on the decisions adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs decided, as a first step, to endorse over 40 proposals to deepen NATO-EU cooperation in concrete areas including "countering hybrid threats; operational cooperation including maritime issues; cyber security and defence; defence capabilities; defence industry and research; exercises; and defence and security capacity building." (Statement on the implementation of the Joint Declaration signed by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 6 December 2016). On 15 December 2016, the European Council urged swift action to follow up on the Council conclusions of 6 December 2016 implementing the Joint Declaration, "avoiding duplication and ensuring complementarity between EU and NATO" (art. 13 of the European Council Meeting - Conclusions).

    On 11 April 2017, several NATO Allies and European Union members came together in Helsinki (Finland), formally agreeing to establish a European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. (Source: NATO)

    In Malta on 27 April 2017, NATO Secretary General Secretary highlighted that the importance of NATO-EU cooperation can be seen “just off Malta’s coast”, where NATO’s maritime operation, Sea Guardian, is providing support to the EU’s Operation Sophia. (Source: NATO)

    In a meeting with EU Defence Ministers on Thursday taking place after the recent ransomware attacks, the NATO Secretary General highlighted cyber defence as an example of tangible progress: “Now NATO and the EU are able to share information in real time on cyber-attacks,” said Mr. Stoltenberg.(Secretary General welcomes closer NATO-EU cooperation, 18 May 2017).

    NATO Defence Ministers met on 29 June 2017. Ministers were also joined by the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, as well as the ministers of Finland and Sweden. In a Press conference following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Defence Ministers, Secretary General Stoltenberg said: "And I presented a progress report on NATO-EU cooperation to ministers, jointly authored by myself and the EU High Representative. One area where our cooperation has been particularly useful is cyber defence. The NATO and EU emergency cyber response teams are now able to share information and warnings in real time. And that’s exactly what they did during the global ransomware attacks earlier this week. Today, we agreed to look into ways to expand our cooperation even further, including in the fight against terrorism." (Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Defence Ministers, 29 June 2017).

    On 30 June 2017, policy experts, diplomats and military representatives met in Brussels to discuss maritime cooperation between NATO and the European Union. The meeting was designed to draw lessons for future cooperation at sea, building on NATO-EU experience in countering piracy in the Indian Ocean and working side-by-side in the Mediterranean. (NATO and EU discuss future cooperation at sea, 30 June 2017).

    Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska in July 2017. The high-level representative of the European Union briefed the North Atlantic Council on the latest developments regarding the European Defence Action Plan and the European Defence Fund. (NATO Ambassadors and EU Commissioner discussed cooperation toward stronger European defence, 5 July 2017).


    Good places to start your research include :

    Please also refer to the NATO LIbGuides on Hybrid Warfare, on Maritime Security, on Cyber Defence and Comprehensive Approach.