NATO PA debates increased EU/NATO cooperation against terrorism

Tbilisi, 27 May 2017 - NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly heard calls Saturday for increased cooperation between NATO and the European Union to tackle the threat from terrorism and other rising security challenges, as well as debating calls for Europe to boost its defence capabilities.

The rapidly evolving European security environment (…) is inspiring new momentum to generate efficient and effective NATO-EU cooperation, Said a draft report by Hungarian lawmaker Attila Mesterhazy presented at the NATO PA’s Spring Session in Tbilisi.

It listed terrorist attacks in Europe, destabilising migration surges, cyber threats and hybrid threats from Russia among the elements which have blurred lines between internal and external security on the continent.

As such, a discrete separation of tasks between NATO as the provider of defence and deterrence against external threats and the EU providing a framework for member state’s domestic security no longer seems viable in the 21st century" said the draft report.

The debate in Tbilisi came on the heels of Thursday’s NATO summit in Brussels, where leaders of the 28 NATO Alliance urged stronger joint action against terrorism and a greater European commitment to defence.

Mesterhazy’s draft report noted that NATO allies and EU countries were already major players in the fight against terrorism, through military actions and security measures, but also by efforts to tackle radicalisation and address the root causes of terrorism.

The impact of the two organisations' cooperation efforts, however, could be far greater, it said. A coordinated one-two hard power soft-power punch of NATO and the EU in counter-terrorism efforts in Europe and beyond can have wide-ranging, lasting impact beyond the capacities of either organisation’s individual efforts.Myriam Benraad, a French expert on jihadism addressed the meeting on the threat from Daesh, explaining how better targeted efforts are needed to counter the terrorist group’s radicalisation drive among disaffected young people in Europe.

Jihadism is everywhere around the world, because of the internet,” said Benraad, a lecturer at Ireland’s University of Limerick. “It’s a real problem and until we have the courage to do something, notably on social networks, it will continue.The NATO PA also looked at how Europe can boost its defence capabilities. A draft report by French Senator Jean-Marie Bockel pointed out that while European allies were mostly cutting defence outlays in the decade up to 2014, Russia’s defence spending rose by 97% and China’s by 167%.

For Europe these trends are not sustainable if the continent genuinely aspires to remain a major international actor,” wrote Bockel. “Europe needs far greater capabilities to ensure that member states are positioned to credibly defend national and collective security interests. The continent needs the capacity to operate militarily in an increasingly complex and threatening security environment.Bockel’s draft report focused on how Europe could increase cost-effectiveness by cutting fragmentation, duplication and protection within its defence industry. Lack of coordination in European defence planning and procurement costs around €24.6 billion a year, he noted.

“European governments can only manage costs if defence purchases are made in a more collective fashion, if its forces are better integrated, if equipment is more standardised and fit for deployment and a clearer division of labor is defined.”

Another area where the EU and NATO need to cooperate more is in the Balkans, where economic woes and disillusionment with the West are creating openings for Russian destabilisation efforts, growing nationalist rabble rousing, and imported religious extremism.

The EU and NATO provide the kind of institutional support and incentives that will make it possible to give the liberal democratic idea a fighting chance to flourish in the region,” wrote British Member of Parliament Richard Benyon in a draft report on the Western Balkans. “Both institutions need to remain deeply engaged for the region to make possible progress toward political stability, security and prosperity.

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