10 June 2014


Robin Niblett

Dr Robin Niblett CMG

Director, Chatham House

Martin Butora, Ivo Daalder, Camille Grand, Ana Palacio, Roland Paris, Volker Perthes, Nathalie Tocci, Sinan Ülgen and Marcin Zaborowski


NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, right, greets US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, before the start of their joint meeting at North Atlantic Council (NATO) on June 2, 2014 in Brussels. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool/Getty.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, right, greets US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, center, before the start of their joint meeting at North Atlantic Council (NATO) on June 2 2014 in Brussels. Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais - Pool/Getty Images.


Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House, is chair of the NATO Group of Policy Experts, tasked with providing NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the North Atlantic Council with ideas on how to strengthen the Alliance's transatlantic bond ahead of September's  NATO summit in Wales. 

The group's report Collective Defence and Common Security: Twin Pillars of the Atlantic Alliance was published on 10 June for discussion at a NATO conference in Brussels on the transatlantic bond.


Executive Summary 

Key points from the Policy Experts report to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, released at the Conference on Strengthening the Transatlantic Bond in Brussels on 10 June 2014:

  • Transatlantic security cannot be taken for granted. Following its withdrawal from Afghanistan, NATO needs to reaffirm its value around the twin objectives of collective defence and common security. 

Upholding peace and stability in Europe 

  • The commitment under NATO’s Article V to treat an attack against one as an attack against all must be credible, and NATO members should take concrete steps together to make it so. Tallinn should be as secure as Toronto. 

  • There can be no return to a ‘strategic partnership’ between NATO and Russia so long as Russia’s actions threaten European security.

  • European governments bear particular responsibility for ensuring their own territorial security. They must invest in the necessary R&D, equipment and deployable capabilities. No amount of ‘smarter’ defence will compensate for a failure to reverse falling defence spending.

  • NATO needs to develop effective responses to the ‘non-linear’ forms of aggression seen during the crisis in Ukraine. But the EU should take the lead in helping its members and neighbours embed good governance practices that will lessen their vulnerability to external destabilization.

  •  European countries should reduce their dependence on Russian energy. Russia’s main strength should no longer be Europe’s main vulnerability. 

  • NATO’s door should remain open to all European democracies that share the values of the Alliance. However, existing members must be ready, willing and able to extend the full benefits of Alliance membership to them, including those in Article V.

 Confronting international insecurity 

  • NATO should not turn inwards after 2014. Much of the Middle East, and North Africa face a decade of turmoil which will pose direct threats to NATO members. 

  • In Asia, unresolved territorial disputes and historical animosities are driving dramatic rises in defence spending. It must be remembered that the Pacific Ocean is the western flank of NATO. 

  • In this context, it should not be left to the United States and a handful of others to deploy hard power beyond NATO’s borders. An over-reliance on US power projection will erode the foundations of the transatlantic bond over time. 

  • NATO and the EU must also cooperate closely to deliver their comprehensive range of capabilities to manage international crises, from market access and development assistance to military intervention and post-conflict civilian support. 

  • Completion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will strengthen the transatlantic community strategically as well as economically.

  • NATO needs to differentiate its approach to working with its international partners. In particular, it should develop long-term cooperative arrangements with the small number of countries in Europe and beyond which have contributed actively alongside NATO to international security in recent years. 

  • The NATO–Russia Council should continue to operate at ambassadorial and higher levels. This will help the two sides coordinate responses to international crises and potentially rebuild trust on European security. 

  • NATO publics are increasingly sceptical about the value of any form of external intervention. Political leaders need to communicate better the deterioration of the security situation in Europe; the importance of international security to their nations' welfare and prosperity; and the need to protect the core values that underpin the Alliance, especially democratic governance, open economies and the rule of law.  

Chatham House press release: Director of Chatham House to Chair New NATO Group of Policy Experts


NATO press release: NATO Secretary General to attend conference on Strengthening the Transatlantic Bond