Yesterday's comments by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO at the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum on future of NATO EU relations really shouldn't come as a great surprise. De Hoop Scheffer is a fully fledged member of the European Elite.
Reuters bluntly headline their piece “Nato chief calls for military tie-ups with EU”, and go on to explain that, “He told a security conference in Brussels it was vital that NATO and the EU had equal access to the armies of their member countries, more than 20 of which belong to both bodies”.
I believe that taking NATO reform seriously means also to look for more synergies with the European Union. I would like to see much more pooling of our capabilities, especially in areas such as vital enablers, transport and helicopters, or in research and development, or in harmonising our force structures and training methods. After all we only have one common set of national defence budgets and national military forces. So it is absolutely critical that all of the capabilities that we are able to generate from this pool of forces are equally available to both NATO and the EU.
This all about laying the groundwork for what will be an entirely new defence structure which will be in place by next year,
As things now stand, I hope and expect that work on a new Strategic Concept will commence at our next Summit in 2009, NATO’s 60th Anniversary. Anniversaries in NATO are not just about past achievements. They are first and foremost about the future. With a new US Administration in office, a new French approach vis-à-vis NATO, and a new dynamic in the European integration process, I believe that our 2009 Summit should produce a short but powerful document that reaffirms the enduring fundamentals of transatlantic security cooperation, and lay down some parameters for a new Strategic Concept. For want of a better term, let me call this document an “Atlantic Charter”.
Make no bones about this, this Atlantic Charter will mark a fundamental shift from the current inter-governmentalism of NATO to the supra-governmentalism so beloved by the EU. De Hoop Scheffer is a former leader of the Christian-Democrat CDA in Holland, the most avowedly pro EU Dutch political party, and then its Foreign Minister during the negotiations over the European Constitution. Here he is in 2005 days after his own people rejected it:
Of course the referendum in France and the Netherlands will have consequences for European integration, but we in NATO…and here, of course, I'm speaking as NATO’s Secretary General, and not as a Dutch citizen who voted in favor, by the way, of the European constitution, which given my past will not come as a surprise to you, so I mean there is no reason to secret about that, it is essential for NATO in its relationship in the strategic partnership, we are seeking in NATO, that the European Union will further integrate including a security and defense, including assuming and building on a security and defense identity, as it is called.
In yesterday's speech, de Hoop Scheffer ticked all the scare boxes, from cyber-crime, through international terrorism up to and inevitably including global warming.