European Council
Council of the European Union

Remarks by President Donald Tusk after the signature of the EU-NATO declaration

European Council
  • 08/07/2016
  • 13:25
  • Statements and remarks
  • 420/16
  • Security & defence
Press contacts

Preben Aamann
European Council President Spokesperson
+32 22815150
+32 476850543

In the two years since the NATO summit in Newport, in the UK, the world as we know it has changed dramatically. Its' most blatant example is what has happened to the then host country of that meeting. I don't need to list the multitude of crises on our doorstep and in our backyard, you know them as well as I do.

Today, the EU and NATO face the same threats, whether they come from the East or the South, or indeed from within, in the form of challenges to the order based on liberal democratic values we have come to believe as our birth-right.

In these new realities, our citizens are demanding greater security, no matter whether they live in countries belonging to the EU, to NATO or to both. It is our democratic responsibility as leaders to deliver.

To be sure, Europe can and should do more to bolster our own capabilities and readiness, including spending more, and more wisely. However, our European initiatives should not be an alternative to cooperation with NATO. Instead of maintaining an illusion of going it alone, we need to increase our value as a NATO friend. That is why we are calling today for a strengthening of the strategic partnership between the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance. Even though our internal and external security are closely linked, sometimes it seems as if the EU and NATO were on two different planets, and not headquartered in the same city.

Our two organisations have partly overlapping but different memberships, their own rules and procedures. On the other hand, they are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Therefore, it makes sense to work more closely together.

We want to be ready to respond and coordinate our actions if and when one of our members or institutions comes under hybrid threats. We equally want to prevent attacks. This is why we intend to improve our interaction, to intensify intelligence sharing among our staffs and to conduct parallel and coordinated exercises.

At stake is real life: our critical infrastructure could be attacked, our banking systems could be hacked or our citizens could be exposed to disinformation campaigns via social networks.

As our own security starts often at the borders of our partners and neighbours, we will help them strengthen their capacity to react to various security and defence challenges as well.

To conclude, I would like to say that we are bound by much more than only common threats. The parties to the North Atlantic Treaty declared that they are, and I quote, "determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law". The founding treaties of the European Union are based on the same principles.

Loyalty to these values remains not only a precondition for the coherence of our community, but in fact is the very reason we are ready to defend one another. Anyone who weakens these values will, in effect, lead to the weakening our security sooner or later.

Our cooperation is a strategic priority. Our greatest strength is unity of values and purpose. Thank you.