NATO PA debates defence burden sharing

Tbilisi, 29 May 2017 – NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly wrapped up its Spring session Monday with calls for Allied governments to meet commitments on defence spending needed to ensure the transatlantic Alliance can continue to play its role as the guarantor of security in a dangerous and unpredictable world.

NATO PA President Paolo Alli told the Assembly that Alliance governments were finally on track to address the imbalance in spending between allies and were working to meet the commitment to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defence.

Many of our nations have already taken concrete and significant steps to move towards this goal,” Alli told the plenary session at the end of the Assembly’s four-day session in Tbilisi. “We must ensure that this increased investment translates into actual increased capabilities and a fair contribution to NATO missions and operations. So we need cash, capabilities and contributions.The meeting which gathered over 200 lawmakers from NATO Allies and partner nations came on the heels of last week’s summit of Alliance leaders in Brussels which agreed to ensure fairer burden sharing with annual national plans on defence investments.

Alli, a member of the Italian parliament elected head of the Assembly last year, said the NATO PA should use its role linking the Alliance to national parliaments and voters to explain the need for stronger defence budgets at a time when Western security is facing a range of challenges.

As parliamentarians, we have a direct say over these matters, which is why I wanted our Assembly to be on the frontline of discussions on burden sharing,” Alli said. “We must explain to our citizens that the defence and security costs are an investment for our future, and that as the Americans say, ‘freedom is not free’.NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller welcomed the call for the Assembly to take a leading role in the burden-sharing debate. “Your role in this matter is extraordinarily important,” she told the Assembly. “We have begun among ourselves, as an Alliance, to increase spending on defence, this trend line is very important now to maintain.”

Throughout the NATO PA session, lawmakers underscored the need to boost defence capabilities. “We believe this is not just a matter of more cash, it is also a matter of stepping up common capabilities,” said Han ten Broeke, head of the Dutch delegation. “Let’s share the burden more equally and potentially relieve our American friends.”

Other issues covered during the four days of talks included the Alliance role in Afghanistan; the security implications of climate change; geopolitical changes in the Arctic; the impact of social media; terrorism; and the wars Syria and Iraq.

Support was expressed for Ukraine and Georgia as they continue to face Russian aggression. The Assembly adopted a declaration in support of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Assembly will meet next to hold its annual autumn session Oct. 6-9 in Bucharest.

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