EU and NATO: Co-operation or Competition ?

Recent years have seen protracted attempts to agree and then to consummate a durable strategic partnership between the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. With the globalisation of security concerns and with the series of major terrorist attacks beginning on 11th September 2001, it has become increasingly difficult to rationalise a Cold War-style separation of the two organisations, with NATO offering ‘hard’ or military power, and the EU offering a ‘soft’ or civil alternative. There are compelling reasons to expect close collaboration between the two organisations: there is considerable overlap in membership; members of both organisations, new and old, are constrained in their defence spending and cannot maintain commitments to support two entirely separate multilateral military structures; and contemporary security challenges no longer respect institutional boundaries, if indeed they ever did. Furthermore, the simple proximity of the two organisations in Brussels creates a widespread expectation that the EU and NATO should be in constant dialogue on issues of mutual concern. It can only  appear inefficient and dysfunctional, for example, that the representative of a foreign government might visit one body but not the other, that NATO does not offer a conduit to the EU, and vice versa, and that the two organisations have not developed mutually reinforcing diplomatic positions. 

Collaboration between NATO and the EU has become an enduring theme in speeches and
statements concerning transatlantic security.

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