In its first meeting, the newly elected Bureau of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) discussed priorities going into 2021, particularly the Assembly’s contribution to the NATO 2030 process and the next steps in NATO’s adaptation.
President Gerry E. Connolly, elected at the 66th Annual Session in November, welcomed the new Bureau composed of a majority of women. He stressed that “NATO is at a critical moment. The ongoing NATO 2030 process and the revision of the Strategic Concept will shape the future of the Alliance. The NATO PA must have a role.”
Discussing the NATO 2030 report by the Group of Experts appointed by the NATO Secretary General, released the previous week, Bureau members were encouraged that it included recommendations put forward by the Assembly in recent years.
Notably, the independent experts suggest a revision of NATO’s Strategic Concept, which the Assembly has long called for. President Connolly therefore vowed “to ensure the NATO PA’s voice is, once again, heard in this revision.”
Likewise, the group’s report incorporates the Assembly recommendation on a Centre of Excellence for Democratic Resilience. “The common values underpinning NATO have been pivotal in maintaining Alliance cohesion,” underlined President Connolly. “We must therefore continue to insist that Allies uphold the founding democratic principles of the North Atlantic Treaty and consider support for democratic institutions as a condition for membership in the Alliance.”
Other key areas where the experts’ proposals are in line with recent Assembly policy recommendations include dealing with Russia’s continuing challenge, addressing the challenges of China’s rise, increasing NATO’s focus on the High North and the Arctic, and taking emerging and disruptive technologies seriously.
Speaking of his priorities for 2021, President Connolly also vowed to work with the bipartisan US Congressional delegation and the incoming US administration to continue to strengthen the unique transatlantic bond: “I am confident that President-elect Biden will demonstrate an early and consistent commitment to this Alliance. At the same time, it is essential that Europe and Canada continue to demonstrate their commitment to NATO as well.”
The NATO PA Bureau consists of the President, Vice-Presidents and Treasurer. The Secretary General, the Head of the United States delegation, and members of the outgoing Bureau also participate in its meetings.