NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined the importance of strengthening transatlantic relations at an Inter-Parliamentary Conference, hosted by the Portuguese Parliament, on Wednesday.

“Strong transatlantic relations are the only way for our countries to address the great challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Addressing parliamentarians, the Secretary General outlined the priorities of the NATO 2030 initiative to strengthen the Alliance, highlighted the strong cooperation between NATO and the EU, and thanked Portugal for championing strong NATO-EU relations. He also welcomed the recent US decision to join the project on military mobility, which can enable US and other NATO troops and equipment to move faster across Europe.

He stressed that parliamentarians can help reinforce the ties between Europe and North America and push for more ambitious and practical joint efforts between NATO and the European Union. “Strengthening transatlantic relations and working hand-in-hand is the right thing to do,” he said.

You can read the Secretary General’s speech here, an excerpt is shown below.

“As I have stated many times, I welcome EU efforts on defence. And the fullest possible involvement of non-EU Allies in PESCO and the European Defence Fund. I also welcome the recent US decision to join the project on military mobility, which is a flagship of NATO-EU cooperation. This can enable US and other NATO troops and equipment to move faster across Europe. For instance to reinforce our NATO battlegroups in the Baltic Sea region.

A European Union that spends more on defence and new capabilities, and that reduces the fragmentation of the European defence industry, is not only good for European security. It is also good for transatlantic security. But European unity cannot replace transatlantic unity. And the European Union cannot defend Europe alone. More than 90 percent of EU citizens live in a NATO country. But EU members provide only 20 percent of NATO’s defence spending.

It is not only about money. It is also about geography. Iceland and Norway in the North are gateways to the Arctic. Turkey in the south borders Syria and Iraq. And in the west, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom link together both sides of the Atlantic. All of these countries are critical for the defence of Europe.

And most of all, it is about politics. Any attempt to divide Europe from North America will weaken NATO. But it will also divide Europe. Only a strong NATO can keep our almost one billion people safe in a more dangerous world. So I do not believe in Europe alone. Or North America alone. I believe in Europe and North America together. In NATO. In strategic solidarity.”

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Sounds like Stoltenburg is rightly telling the more ardent EU Defence advocates (and their generally anti US feelings) to wind their necks in!

Supportive Bloke

It is more EU Central’s delusion that because they are a big economic block, which they are, that they are also an organisational unit: which they are not. The EU does not have the organisational structures to do anything fast or in a manner that is under scrutiny or control. There is also no history of EU defence whereas NATO came out of the leadership of US and UK post WWII and has evolved steadily since. The EU may, on paper have big forces, but if COVID teaches us anything the nationalistic politics, in spite of the ever closer union… Read more »


If the CORVID vaccine omnishambles teaches us anything, is that transferring powers from nations to the EU commission results in bureaucratic delays and a loss of life.


You can be certain that isn’t the lesson the EU will take from this!

More control, more power, more centralisation…


Of course the EU won’t learn from the vaccine debacle. It didn’t learn from the rush to get countries into the Euro, which produced the sovereign debt crisis of 2009. It didn’t learn from its rush to expand and envelop countries like the Ukraine that Russia will no-longer stand idly by.
In all these cockups there has been no accountability for the EUs policies. Which is why it will continue along its headlong dash towards its own demise.


Hmmm, I’d not disagree too much, but never underestimate the ability of people to keep things spinning if doing so sustains their core beliefs (look at the Church/Religion, 2000 years and still going, and, in my view, built on complete BS and a lot of horrific behaviour along the way).

The EU will endure for a long time yet, and in that time will evolve further.

Mark B

Your point about the Religion is interesting. Would you not say that it’s grip on society in Europe has been declining for centuries to the point that it is now virtually non existent.

In my view I think it is fair to say that Governments with large populations with widely differing needs and views will struggle to remain in control without resorting to force over the long term.

The EU are trying to force the pace whereas their only possible way forward would be to slow the pace to that of the slowest ship.

Rob N


I respect your personal view of ‘religion’ as ‘BS’. However I must point out that you are VERY much in the world minority. If you count Christians, Muslim and Hindu alone you are looking at over 4 billion people who do not share your view. Oh yes that number is growing….

So rather than ‘religion’ being a in the past legacy thing it is very much alive and well…

AlsoI think the church will outlast the EU.


I do wonder if the EU will outlast the unification of the United States which is a lot closer to imploding I suspect than the EU which despite differences and disagreements has far more general agreement than the other side of the pond can display and at the core has a lot of fear binding it together which in this uncertain world is only likely to increase. The US might just hold together as an entity but the ways things are going and as it inevitably declines (which as we already see its people cannot even deal with in anticipation)… Read more »

Andy P

There aren’t that many countries that are run by religions or even have clerics in ‘high office’. Off the top of my head its just Iran and the UK that have them in their legislature.


Couldn’t agree more Sean. The church was fundamentally designed to control those who have been indoctrinated or coerced by it. The EU tries to do exactly the same. EU members, the UK and NATO will not be best served if Brussels succeeds in its determined attempts to get their greedy hands on the defence budgets of their members.


As the Soviet Union can tell you, centralisation always works so well.


Reality never dents the aspirations of adherants to centralisation!


China now and Nazi Germany historically were pretty centralised and they showed if you can set it up efficiently it can sadly kick democratic free market capitalism to the sidelines. We ignore that at great cost and should thank fate that Russia for mostly inherent historical reasons has never been able to reproduce that successfully. Even so had Britain not stayed in the war enabling a different later outcome it would have been either Russia or Germany running the world economy the US a pocket power at best kept in its geographic cage and China (and India for that matter)… Read more »


Centralisation works well for some things and not so well for others. Rolling out the vaccine programme in the UK went very well in part because of the centralised organisation of the NHS and the Chinese centralised system of totalitarian government works efficiently (not that I am advocating for that as the ideal)


I’m going to have to beg to differ on the vaccine programme. It worked so well because it was totally decentralised. Central government and the DOH were clever this time ( learning from test and trace) and actually used the NHS as it’s set up to be used. Contrary to popular understanding the NHS is not actually a centralised organisation, its a collective made up of thousands of different organisations ( some owned by the taxpayer some not) all following a shared ethos and sets of high level strategic values. They are generally co-ordinated at a county sized level with… Read more »


Plenty of examples of EU uniting to defend throughout history, such as against Napoleon etc…


Ummm that’s not really a good example, depending on whether you count the second coalition war as included in the Napoleonic wars or not you have either 8 or 9 distinct wars that involves different alliances and factions so it was never Europe against Napoleon it was a number of conflicts between different coalitions of allies at different time. Infact a great part of Napoleons success was in seeding internal conflicts across Europe allowing him to dominate, the problem was he never really developed an imperial policy of how to bring about Peaceful integration across his empire. This allowed the… Read more »


Shocked that the head of NATO *checks notes* says that you have to keep NATO relevant.


Hi folks hope all are well. A great speach as normal, however, it’s about time those NATO countries that spend less than 2% on defense are named and shamed; Germany, Italy and Spain should be pressed along with others. Also NATO should be sending a clear message to a potential independent Scotland they will have to meet the 2 percent if they want to join. The SNP have already made clear they are not funding the required minimum. The last time I checked, I believe the SNP are proposing 1.5 % defense budget. Why would NATO welcome another problem, matters… Read more »

Andy G

Hi George, Thanks for the article. I’m a huge fan of NATO, but when he says that the EU spends 20% of NATO budget he is giving misleading information, as clearly the USA is spending money to counter China and not protect the EU. It’s doubtful the USA could move troops to the EU in time, in my opinion. Personally, I disagree with his theory that the EU can’t defend itself, they have the money and skills and given a solid plan and enough time they could build an EU defense force to defend against Russia by themselves. Every country… Read more »


I think you underesimate the flexibility of US forces. By far most are based in the USA and can be directed globally in a matter unmatched by any other nation.


You appear to think money spent by the US countering China is not money spent on protecting the EU. Fact is China is just as great a threat to Europe, to discount this simply because the EU doesn’t have a land-border with China is naive.

Andy P

Andy G, I agree that the EU ‘could’ defend itself but its not really set up for that. While there is an increase in inter-EU military cooperation its not really as coordinated as NATO. Personally as NATO seems to be working quite well I’m not sure what an EU armed forces would bring, unless they were planning on even more assets and manpower. That circles back to the ‘could’, they’re certainly not doing it now. As for Scotland being able to join on say 1.5% spending, I agree that especially as a new country that might be acceptable but I… Read more »


Reality is Scotland would be in NATO in a heartbeat and saying anything else is just project fear nonsense. Just like the EU would snap it up on an accelerated accession (albeit some painful devil in the detail for Scotland which would rapidly find out what being a small partner can really be like!). The only alternative is if the SNP follows the Irish model of neutrality, which I get the impression would be right up their inclination – but politically would cost them a lot, and probably critical amounts, of support and votes. From NATO’s perspective, it would make… Read more »

Andy P

Can’t argue with any of that mate. Totally agree on joining the EU, as a former member that was ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ from the club, we might get a ‘pass’ to rejoin. Saying that… I’ve taken comfort from the decline in interest in independence, it had peaked at 56% but dropped to 52% earlier in the week and we still have a couple weeks before the whole ‘Eckgate’ debacle goes before the Parlie. At the very least, Wee Jimmy is going to get a bollocking for not following protocol although my spider senses say she’ll be dethroned. Her integrity… Read more »

Andy P

she’ll be dethroned”

DOH ! That should read NOT be dethroned.

Rob N

I think Queen Nicola is now a liability to the independence cause for the SNP. Now in the most recent polls more Scots support the Union then independence.

I am not sure the EU would be in such a rush to snap up Scotland. Their economy is not great and their will end up an economic drag on the EU. Also I have never understood why the SNP want independence from the Union only to sign up for the EU were they would loose their independence to Brussels…

Andy P

“Also I have never understood why the SNP want independence from the Union only to sign up for the EU were they would loose their independence to Brussels…” This is the crux of it for me, call me a mercenary but I’ve no ideological problem with independence, if we were going to be better off or about the same I wouldn’t have a big issue with it. I’m not saying its something I would want even then but I could ‘get it’. I don’t like being taken for an idiot though (in fairness, all the parties tell us lies) and… Read more »


Agree, Scotland is just to strategically important for it not to be a member of NATO.


Totally agreed and equally why the EU will not encourage the break away of member territory they will be at the forefront of encouraging non member breakaway if it suits them as it does with the UK even if in reality weakening Britain militarily, as this move would, is inherently stupid for them in the bigger picture. I think some of the tactics on Northern Ireland has such leanings too. Equally the EU could easily be independent militarily its economic power dwarfs that of Russia but it simply doesn’t have the taste for it at least while it sees the… Read more »


Awww, what happened to all that Brexit “Soverign Nations should make their own choices, not have them dictated by others” stuff?
Or does that only apply to johnny foreigner dictating to the UK?


To what are you referring here?

John Clark

Dern is still stuck in the past, longing for those bygone days when Brussels dictated our every move.

Perhaps you would like to be in EU, waiting for a vaccine that might happen in the dim and distant future Dern, assuming the politburo in charge can ever get their act together. The poor sods….

Thank your lucky stars that more insightful people made the right decision on your behalf and allowed you to be vaccinated with free thinking British efficiency …. You are most welcome!

Last edited 1 month ago by John Clark
Rob Young

It would be interesting to see an actual breakdown of US military spending – how much is allocated to the defence of Europe, how much to China, etc. The fact is, military spending by the EU will be mostly allocated to defence against Russia – for the US I would guess that China is the bigger concern. The UK is in a strange position – UK forces are European but not just concerned with Russia.


Yes. But France has links overseas.

Rob Young

True – ‘mostly’ was intended to take this into account, perhaps I should have been a bit clearer.


Not a worry. And my first word was “yes”. I was taking your point. However I thought it worthwhile to point out France and Mali… and we are helping them.


You’d never do it, because that’s not how the US measures spending.
Spending is done by asset and capability, not by theatre deployed too (imagine if it was! Redeploying a B2 squadron would represent a major budget upheval!)

Rob Young

Forces and materials have to be allocated… simple example, a carrier group allocation has to be planned months in advance. Likewise, before sending troops to a theatre they have to be trained and acclimated to the deployed area. Resources have to be allocated to transport those forces. So even though spending is done by asset and capability,resource allocation can be costed. The total costs of all forces allocated then gives an idea of what proportion of spending overall has been ‘spent’ on a particular area.

Although the chances of ever getting that information is virtually nil, it could be done!


Well all the major EU powers will have a bigger armies than the UK soon.


Lots of troops is all very well but without force enablers and multipliers like heavy lift, they are considerably less capable.


Bigger maybe, but we still have a range of assets which the vast majority of European NATO members don’t, at least in the numbers.


France had the largest standing army in Europe at the start of WW2 yet things didn’t work out well for them. What matters is having the defence capability that your nation needs. Comparing militaries on the basis of army size is nothing but a willy-waving exercise.


very true Sean but as I have been arguing anything below 100,000 troops is very limiting ,there’s low numbers and really low numbers which is what the UK gov is heading.


I just can’t get my head round it cutting troops if France can keep there numbers up surely the UK can and for the likes of German government who are the richest in Europe with there Army ? .No doubt NATO fell asleep .


The issue is the RAF and the RN have this card that’s called “not putting boots on the ground.” The RAF in particular have long been lobbying politicians with the belief that you can just drop bombs on people and it’ll win wars (they’ve been arguing it since 1918 and every now and then someone is taken in enough to grant them the budget). The RN tends to play the “Island Nation, needs a strong Navy” card (ignoring the rail link to the continent of course, or that the Navy in at least 3 World Wars (not a typo, Napoleon,… Read more »


You think a capable army could have ended WW1 and 2 in months?

Meirion X

The new Navy is to take our airpower to farway palaces.


Yep exactly Andrew.

Daniele Mandelli

You are right Sean. I’d add that for me it is a balance between quality and quantity and we are too low in too many areas, despite the high tech stuff.

Martyn Parker

An army can be ramped up relatively quickly, air force and navy take time, the government is taking the right path by prioritising navy spending


We should and must be able to! Over dependence on someone else’s goodwill coat tails is not enough. It also means Europe collectively could not act on its own initiative. As it stands it only works if US and Canadian interests are the same as ours.


Collectively Europe has the money, the people and the industry to become more self sufficient in defence if it so chooses.

The EU as any sort of military block is too messy and conflicted though.

The tried and tested framework for collective defence is of NATO so the best outcome would be higher European spending but to contribute to existing structures.


The EU could more than defend itself if Merkel and a few others would step up and start seriously funding defense but that now seems unlikely now that China Joe won and will go back to America providing the majority of the EU’s defense needs. Ugh.


Give it a rest. China Joe? Come on…


Yeah, that Merkel bitch how dare she only fund the German military to the point where it’s 7th in the world! /end sarcasm.


Sure Germany let there guard down Dern.

Andy P

Not having a dig Dern but I’m curious what meter you’re using ????


Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2020 Fact Sheet (for 2019)
SIPRI Military Expenditure DatabaseShows Germany as in 7th position for spending by value USD49.3 Billion . The UK is in 8th position

Andy P

Cheers, guessed it was based on spending.


Interesting the 2021 edition of “The Military Balance” from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) shows the UK in 4th place and Germany in 7th place. Different method of calculating maybe?

Andy P

Aye, different ‘lists’ might be coming from slightly different places, stats can be worked to suit whoever is using them. Then there’s what you do with the finances etc…. these ‘lists’ can be useful but rarely tell the whole story. In the case of Germany (and Japan) I’m sure they were quite happy back in the day to have other limits put on them so they could spend elsewhere and have ‘foreigners’ basing troops and spending money. Maybe wasn’t good for national prestige but the money men would have been rubbing their hands. It probably has impacted the zeitgeist of… Read more »


The EU has not defended Europe, it is NATO that does that, albeit given that many European nations in the EEC/EU at the time were also in the EU. The UK will remain committed to NATO & keeping Europe free from authoratarianism as it always has in modern times.
If the EU seriously wants to take on European defence in more than name, they need to up their defence spending & grow up a lot.


There are many future issues facing NATO and reliance on the EU member states is a vexed question. As shown by its dithering over the COVID vaccine debacle, achieving a collective, speedy response, to a military crisis must be in question? At the end of the day, the three most alert and responsive Western nations are the Americans, British and French forces. That being the case, our collective defence spending will have to remain high. Any cuts that strangulate capability will have profound repercussions when compared to the expanse of Chinese, Russian, North Korean, and Iranian military budgets.


Time for the EU to defend itself, and stop allowing others to defend there country, the entire EU is rotten to the core of the un -elected power.