Parliamentarians consider immediate and long-term implications of the Brussels NATO Summit

Brussels, 10 July 2018 - The Summit meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Brussels on 11-12 July 2018 represents the culmination of a process begun at the Wales Summit in 2014. 

Four years ago, NATO was compelled to react to Russia’s seizure of Crimea and the terrorist threat posed by groups such as Daesh in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Those threats, in turn, required compelling changes at NATO in terms of meeting force capability and defence spending goals and developing an over-arching strategy for coping with threats emanating from the East and the South. The 2016 Warsaw Summit continued along these lines by sanctioning the creation of four battle groups for deterrence in the Baltics and deepening security partnerships throughout the broader Middle East. 

Despite current difficulties in the transatlantic relationship, the Brussels Summit is now slated to take the next step by bolstering Allied rapid reinforcement and mobility capabilities that could be useful both on the eastern and southern flanks of the Alliance, focusing allied attention on the critical defence spending targets as defined at the Wales and Warsaw Summits, revamping the command structure, deepening ties with the European Union in areas such as countering cyber-attacks, reconfirming the open door policy, projecting stability, taking on the terrorist challenge with an array of partner countries and, perhaps most importantly, enhancing the transatlantic bond.

This was the central message delivered to NATO parliamentarians at a special NATO Parliamentary Assembly conference entitled “Approaching the 2018 Brussels Summit”. At the meeting, parliamentarians from 19 Allied countries met with several ministers from Allied governments and senior NATO officials who were slated to attend the Summit. The speakers included Frank Bakke-Jensen, the Minister of Defence of Norway, Sven Mikser, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Michael Murphy, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary General of NATO, and Lieutenant General Jan Broeks, Director General of the NATO International Military Staff.  

These leaders as well as US and European analysts shared their ambitions for the summit, their expectations for what would follow, and the potential challenges to the alliances arising out of an array of political difficulties confronted by allied governments and societies including rising protectionist and nationalist sentiments. Several speakers expressed concerns about these political tensions and did not discount the possibility that they could impact transatlantic cooperation. The conference was held in Brussels and was conducted under the Chatham House Rule.  

Participants also explored the serious security challenge posed by Russia. NATO is doing everything it can to counter Russia’s provocative posture and to deter it from considering aggressive military action. It is also working to deal with hybrid threats, including cyber-attacks and interference in domestic politics, while nonetheless remaining open to dialogue with Russia on issues where this can lead to mutually beneficial cooperation.