European Union–NATO relations
The European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are two main treaty-based Western organisations for cooperation between member states, both headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Their natures are different and they operate in different spheres: NATO is a purely intergovernmental organisation functioning as a military alliance whose primary task is to implement article 5 in the North Atlantic Treaty on collective territorial defence. The EU on the other hand is a partly supranational and partly intergovernmental sui generis entity akin to a confederation that entails wider economic and political integration. Unlike NATO, the EU pursues a foreign policy in its own right - based on consensus, and member states have equipped it with tools in the field of defence and crisis management; the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) structure.
This article possibly contains original research. (January 2020)
The EU and NATO have 27 and 30 member states, respectively — of which 21 are members of both. Another four NATO members are EU applicants—Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Turkey. Two others—Iceland and Norway—have opted to remain outside of the EU, but do participate in the EU's single market as part of their European Economic Area (EEA) membership. The memberships of the EU and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are traditionally neutral on defence issues. Several EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact. Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP.
The EU has its own mutual defence clause in Articles 42(7) and 222 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), respectively. The CSDP command and control structure is however much smaller than the NATO Command Structure (NCS), and the extent to which the CSDP should evolve to form a full defence arm for the EU that is able to implement the EU mutual defence clause in its own right is a point of contention, and the United Kingdom (UK) has objected to this. At the UK's insistence in the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Lisbon, Article 42.2 of TEU also specifies that NATO shall be the main forum for the implementation of collective self-defence for EU member states that are also NATO members.
The 2002 Berlin Plus agreement and 2018 Joint declaration provide for cooperation between the EU and NATO, including that that NCS resources may be used for the conduct of the EU's CSDP missions.
1948-1951: Common origins, where NATO cannibalises intra-European initiatives
The Western Union, established to implement the 1948 Treaty of Brussels signed by France, the Netherlands, the Benelux countries and the United Kingdom, represents a precursor to both NATO and the EU's defence arm, the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). WUDO's organisational chart as of November 1948, in which solid and dashed lines indicate control and liaison lines, respectively:
(foreign or prime ministers)
|Permanent Commission (4 ambassadors in London|
plus Foreign Office representative)
|Defence Committee (defence ministers)|
|Military Supply Board|
|Chiefs of Staff Committee (WUCOS)|
|UN General Assembly Special Committee||Security Committee||Military Committee and Combined Staff of WUCOS||Commanders-in-Chief Committee and its Chairman|
|C-in-C Western Europe Land Forces||C-in-C Western Europe (Tactical) Air Force||Flag Officer Western Europe|
Since the end of World War II, sovereign European countries have entered into treaties and thereby co-operated and harmonised policies (or pooled sovereignty) in an increasing number of areas, in the so-called European integration project or the construction of Europe (French: la construction européenne). The following timeline outlines the legal inception of the European Union (EU)—the principal framework for this unification. The EU inherited many of its present responsibilities from the European Communities (EC), which were founded in the 1950s in the spirit of the Schuman Declaration.
F: entry into force
de facto supersession
Rel. w/ EC/EU framework:
de facto inside
|European Union (EU)||[Cont.]|
|European Communities (EC)||(Pillar I)|
|European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom)||[Cont.]|
|/ / / European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)|
|European Economic Community (EEC)|
|Schengen Rules||European Community (EC)|
|'TREVI'||Justice and Home Affairs (JHA, pillar II)|
|North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)||[Cont.]||Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PJCC, pillar II)|
|[Defence arm handed to NATO]||European Political Co-operation (EPC)||Common Foreign and Security Policy|
(CFSP, pillar III)
|Western Union (WU)||/ Western European Union (WEU)||[Tasks defined following the WEU's 1984 reactivation handed to the EU]|
|[Social, cultural tasks handed to CoE]||[Cont.]|
|Council of Europe (CoE)|
- ¹Although not EU treaties per se, these treaties affected the development of the EU defence arm, a main part of the CFSP. The Franco-British alliance established by the Dunkirk Treaty was de facto superseded by WU. The CFSP pillar was bolstered by some of the security structures that had been established within the remit of the 1955 Modified Brussels Treaty (MBT). The Brussels Treaty was terminated in 2011, consequently dissolving the WEU, as the mutual defence clause that the Lisbon Treaty provided for EU was considered to render the WEU superfluous. The EU thus de facto superseded the WEU.
- ²The treaties of Maastricht and Rome form the EU's legal basis, and are also referred to as the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), respectively. They are amended by secondary treaties.
- ³The European Communities obtained common institutions and a shared legal personality (i.e. ability to e.g. sign treaties in their own right).
- ⁴Between the EU's founding in 1993 and consolidation in 2009, the union consisted of three pillars, the first of which were the European Communities. The other two pillars consisted of additional areas of cooperation that had been added to the EU's remit.
- ⁵The consolidation meant that the EU inherited the European Communities' legal personality and that the pillar system was abolished, resulting in the EU framework as such covering all policy areas. Executive/legislative power in each area was instead determined by a distribution of competencies between EU institutions and member states. This distribution, as well as treaty provisions for policy areas in which unanimity is required and qualified majority voting is possible, reflects the depth of EU integration as well as the EU's partly supranational and partly intergovernmental nature.
- ⁶Plans to establish a European Political Community (EPC) were shelved following the French failure to ratify the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community (EDC). The EPC would have combined the ECSC and the EDC.
1954: Failure to establish an autonomous European pillar in NATO
Had its founding treaty not failed to acquire ratification in the French Parliament in 1954, the European Defence Community would have entailed a pan-European military, divided into national components, and had a common budget, common arms, centralized military procurement, and institutions. The EDC would have had an integral link to NATO, forming an autonomous European pillar in the Atlantic alliance.
1996-present: Tensions and mutual interests as EU gains autonomous defence structures
Following the establishment of the ESDI and the St. Malo declaration, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were among others who voiced concern that an independent European security pillar could undermine NATO, as she put forth the three famous D's:
Our [...] task is working together to develop [the ESDI] within [NATO], which the United States has strongly endorsed. We enthusiastically support any such measures that enhance European capabilities. The United States welcomes a more capable European partner, with modern, flexible military forces capable of putting out fires in Europe's own back yard and working with us through [NATO] to defend our common interests. The key to a successful initiative is to focus on practical military capabilities. Any initiative must avoid preempting [NATO] decision-making by de-linking ESDI from NATO, avoid duplicating existing efforts, and avoid discriminating against non-EU members. [...]
The Berlin Plus agreement enables EU operations to be planned and conducted at the military strategic and operational level with recourse to assets and capabilities in the NATO Command Structure (NCS). In such an event, an Operational Headquarters (OHQ) would be set up within NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. SHAPE is the main headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO).
When the NCS provides the OHQ, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) acts as Operation Commander (OpCdr).
The Berlin Plus agreement requires that the use of NATO assets by the EU is subject to a "right of first refusal", i.e. NATO must first decline to intervene in a given crisis, and contingent on unanimous approval among NATO states, including those outside of the EU. For example, Turkish reservations about Operation Concordia using NATO assets delayed its deployment by more than five months.
The European External Action Service's (EEAS) Military Staff (EUMS), situated in the Kortenberg building in Brussels, has a permanent NATO liaison team and runs a permanent EU cell at NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons.
The CSDP entails collective self-defence amongst member states. This responsibility is based on Article 42.7 of TEU, which states that this responsibility does not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain member states, referring to policies of neutrality. See Neutral country§European Union for discussion on this subject. According to the Article 42.7 "If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States." Article 42.2 furthermore specifies that NATO shall be the main forum for the implementation of collective self-defence for EU member states that are also NATO members.
The EU does not have a permanent military command structure similar to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Allied Command Operations (ACO), although it has been agreed that ACO resources may be used for the conduct of the EU's CSDP missions under the Berlin Plus agreement. The Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), established in 2017 and to be strengthened in 2020, does however represent the EU's first step in developing a permanent military OHQ. In parallel, the newly established European Defence Fund (EDF) marks the first time the EU budget is used to finance multinational defence projects.
- Liaison: Advice and recommendations Support and monitoring Preparatory work
|Political strategic level:|
|ISS||EUCO Pres. (EUCO)||Chain of command|
|INTCEN||HR/VP (PMG)||HR/VP (PSC) (******)|| |
DGEUMS (***) (EUMS)
|Military/civilian strategic level:|
Dir MPCC (***) (MPCC)
|JSCC||Civ OpCdr CPCC(*)|
|MFCdr (****) (MFHQ)||HoM (*)|
|CC(**) Land||CC(**) Air||CC(**) Mar||Other CCs(**)|
- *In the event of a CSDP Civilian Mission also being in the field, the relation with the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC) and its Civilian Operation Commander (Civ OpCdr), as well as the subordinate Head of Mission (HoM), are coordinated as shown.
- **Other Component Commanders (CCs) and service branches which may be established
- ***The MPCC is part of the EUMS and Dir MPCC is double-hatted as DGEUMS. Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), either a national OHQ offered by member states or the NATO Command Structure (NCS) would serve this purpose. In the latter instance, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), rather than Dir MPCC, would serve as Operation Commander (OpCdr).
- ****Unless the MPCC is used as Operation Headquarters (OHQ), the MFCdr would be known as a Force Commander (FCdr), and direct a Force Headquarters (FHQ) rather than a MFHQ. Whereas the MFHQ would act both on the operational and tactical level, the FHQ would act purely on the operational level.
- *****The political strategic level is not part of the C2 structure per se, but represents the political bodies, with associated support facilities, that determine the missions' general direction. The Council determines the role of the High Representative (HR/VP), who serves as Vice-President of the European Commission, attends European Council meetings, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and may chair the Political and Security Committee (PSC) in times of crisis. The HR/VP proposes and implements CSDP decisions.
- ******Same composition as Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) II, which also prepares for the CSDP-related work of the FAC.
The commands under SACEUR - Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, Allied Joint Force Command Naples and Joint Force Command Norfolk are Operational Level Commands, while Headquarters Allied Air Command, Headquarters Allied Maritime Command and Headquarters Allied Land Command are Tactical Level Commands. SACEUR also has operational command of the Joint Support and Enabling Command.
- Liaison: Provides advice and support to the NAC
|Political strategic level:|
|Military strategic level:|
CMC (NATO MC)
(ACT, HQ SACT)
|JFCBS Brunssum, NL||JWC Stavanger, NO|
|AIRCOM Ramstein, DE||JALLC Lisbon, PT|
|MARCOM Northwood, GB||JFTC Bydgoszcz, PL|
|LANDCOM İzmir, TR|
|CIS GP Mons, BE|
|JFCNP Naples, IT|
|JFC-NF Norfolk, Virginia, US|
Out of the 27 EU member states, 21 are also members of NATO. Another four NATO members are EU applicants—Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Turkey. Two others—Iceland and Norway—have opted to remain outside of the EU, however participate in the EU's single market. The memberships of the EU and NATO are distinct, and some EU member states are traditionally neutral on defence issues. Several EU member states were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact. Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP.
|State||European Union||NATO||Organisation for|
|Membership||Common Security and Defence Policy|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Candidate||No||No||Membership Action Plan||No|
|Serbia||Candidate||EDA partnership||No||Individual Partnership Action Plan||No|
- United States–European Union relations
- Council of Europe–European Union relations
- Canada–European Union relations
- Turkey–European Union relations
- United Kingdom–European Union relations
- Western European Union
- European Union as a potential superpower
- Kiljunen, Kimmo (2004). The European Constitution in the Making. Centre for European Policy Studies. pp. 21–26. ISBN 978-92-9079-493-6.
- Burgess, Michael (2000). Federalism and European union: The building of Europe, 1950–2000. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 0-415-22647-3. "Our theoretical analysis suggests that the EC/EU is neither a federation nor a confederation in the classical sense. But it does claim that the European political and economic elites have shaped and moulded the EC/EU into a new form of international organization, namely, a species of "new" confederation."
- Defence Data Portal, Official 2012 defence statistics from the European Defence Agency
- "Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1 to the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal)". Office of the Historian. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- "12/8/98 Albright Statement to the North Atlantic Council". 1997-2001.state.gov.
- "EU Operations Centre".
- Heritage Foundation report, March 24, 2008.
- Bram Boxhoorn, Broad Support for NATO in the Netherlands, 21-09-2005, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-08-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- EU Command and Control, p. 13, Military Staff
- "Command Structure" (PDF). NATO. Retrieved 19 October 2019. and "Military Command Structure". shape.nato.int. Supreme Head Allied Powers Europe. 12 February 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
- "MILITARY COMMAND STRUCTURE". shape.nato.int. NATO. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- Boeke, Sergei (13 January 2020). "Creating a secure and functional rear area : NATO's new JSEC Headquarters". nato.int. NATO. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
JSEC is part of the NATO Force Structure and under the operational command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).