The European Union participates on 20-21 May in the Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Chicago. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will be in Chicago, along with 60 Heads of State and Government representing NATO members as well as third states.
The EU has a unique role as a security provider and an added value in conflict prevention and crisis management: its comprehensive approach encompassing a wide range of tools including military power, political and diplomatic action, trade, humanitarian assistance and long-term development aid. In Chicago, EU leaders will stress the Union’s determination to further enhance its ability to address security and defence challenges, notably by strengthening military capabilities in Europe, and its commitment to develop cooperation with NATO.
While most of its Member States are also members of NATO, the EU has in recent years developed a strong partnership with the organisation: at political level through enhanced institutional cooperation, in operations since both are deployed together in several theatres – such as Afghanistan, Kosovo, or the fight against piracy in the Horn of Africa – as well as in the development of military capabilities. The overall context of financial crisis and the new US strategic orientations have made this collaboration even more essential.
The Chicago summit will address three major topics:
The future of Afghanistan will be a major topic of the Summit. The EU and its Member States currently provide around €1 billion a year in overall assistance to the country, and they committed to maintain funding at least at current levels after 2014. In the security sector, Member States have agreed in principle to extend until the end of 2014 the mandate of the EU police mission , which focuses on institutional reform of the Afghan police, leadership and specialised training, and improving the links between the police and the justice sector. The EU will reiterate in Chicago the continued long-term commitment to support Afghanistan's security and development, including significant support to an effective Afghan civilian police force.
In the area of European defence capabilities, the EU will present the substantial progress made through concrete projects facilitated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) on the Pooling & Sharing of defence capabilities among Member States, for example in the areas of Air-to-Air Refuelling or Medical Field Hospitals. The close cooperation between the EU and NATO ensures that the EU’s work on Pooling and Sharing and NATO’s equivalent Smart Defence concept are, in practice, complementary and mutually reinforcing.
In the margins of the NATO sessions, High Representative/Vice-President Ashton will have a trilateral meeting with NATO’s Secretary General Rasmussen and US Secretary of State Clinton. They will discuss various issues of common interest, including Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, defence capabilities and maritime counter-piracy.