Lecture and Interview at the “The Berlin Inaugural Event of the Cross Continental Cooperation Summit”Future Prospects in International and Intercultural Relations: Building Bridges between Europe, USA, Russia and China”
Security and foreign policy are the main fields where political guidance and strong political leadership are needed.
These fields impact on the core of national sovereignty; and defending citizens and their security is and should remain a top priority for all democratic governments.
So, on one hand States in NATO and in the EU shouldn’t run the risk to underestimate serious, multifaceted and asymmetric threats on all of us in the rapidly changing world.
On the other hand, by showing leadership and better public communication capacities, States and multinational organizations should explain that money spent for preventing and facing threats is not wasted but invested for the good of our citizens. On this, the first political key principle is multilateral cooperation. If I think of NATO, it is clear that financial burden for capabilities should be shared reasonably in the near future between European and American allies.
And it is necessary, for we Europeans, to work even more towards a complementarity rather than duplication by making full use of existing “pooling and sharing” and “smart defence” initiatives.
So, we need political decision on better spending, rather than cutting horizontally defence national budgets, focusing on some priorities.
A) In general terms, EU allies should avoid to consider that just representing a “soft power” would be enough to play the European indispensable role as security provider.
We cannot run the risk to be seen as the “soft power” appendix to US strong security producer.
The most important political goal, in the future of NATO and in times of economic crisis, is for NATO to better involve EU partners, by encouraging coordinated political choices on where we can cut (think about “static” spending or not “interoperable” area) and where on the contrary we need new and fresh investments (think of new technologies, or cyber security), and also how to better organise a division of labour among Allies.
B) More in particular, we indicated areas where we started to pool resources (think of common projects on smart munitions, surveillance/reconnaissance, military satellite communications) and areas where we already share capabilities (think of air policing or air refuelling, where Italy actively participates); these areas of closer cooperation are proving to be quite successful.
C) In order to guarantee access to common capabilities, important initiatives are being discussed within NATO and EU Allies.
But a key issue is how to guarantee, once a national political decision is taken, that each MS of the Alliance effectively provides a predetermined capability after receiving notice that this is required. In my view, one first step should be a political national strategic decision, where in each State the Government involves the Parliament taking, after that, the commitment to keep, once and for all, a given asset available for the Alliance, except in the case that a new opposite strategic political decision is taken.
A second, necessary, step is to agree, among the Allies, who is responsible to somehow “certify” what is made available and by whom. Even though this is not an easy issue, I think NATO and the European Defence Agency should have a key role to play. Understandably, some partners are reluctant.
But so far, the system to use common assets was based on redundancies on some capabilities and deficiencies on others. And this is what we’ll have to change towards transparency, efficiency, optimization, also to avoid to discourage further investments on the needed assets.
D) Another issue at stake, if we want to adapt to the evolving global security context, is how to better cooperate with private industrial sectors on defence and security.
A first step is to improve our procurement systems, where, particularly among EU Allies, fragmentation and duplications cases are largely more than collaborative programs.
We should think, now, of pooling and sharing production alongside procurement.
The existing fragmentation duplicates production and leads to different standards of equipment, so hindering the development of logistic support systems and weakens military interoperability.
Europeans should, again to improve private – public cooperation, quickly implement a EU common market on defence, after the adoption of important EU directives and the strengthening of the EU Defence Agency, that go exactly in that direction.
E) Partnerships One of the most important strategic imperative is, for our Alliance, to build a globalised, flexible and rapidly reaching network of partnerships.
This is equally important for Europeans and for American allies, for some good reasons.
First, major threats come from outside the “transatlantic space”; so, we need reliable partners that are strong players in the regions where threats are originated.
Second, we have to protect “common goods”, from cyber-security to sea lanes of communication or energy supply routes, to stabilization of failing and failed States.
There, Allies and partners have these good in common, and so a common strategy is needed. We know well that NATO and its Members cannot be the fighter for the good everywhere in the world, especially in times of economic crises.
So, and I think of Asia and Pacific, or Africa and the broader Middle East, we need to rely heavily on partners to globalize together our response to the crises. NATO should evolve, in the near future, toward a stronger involvement of partners. First of all, by contributing to enable them to become stronger providers of security: targeted education, training and mentoring projects should be a key element of this strategy.
This would enable members and partners to better develop together a comprehensive interoperability, to the benefit of initiatives, like NATO response force, where rapid and coordinated action is needed.
For example, we don’t have yet shared standards on cyber security and prevention measures. Cooperation with partners on counterterrorism and counter-intelligence should be deepened, starting from special Forces’ cooperation in a more comprehensive approach.
Since prevention strategy became and will become more and more crucial we could think of involving Partners in each of the world’s regions of our interest, on the “threat assessment”, encouraging also regional organisations to participate, so providing the Alliance with a more comprehensive, also regional – based, evaluation of a given situation of threat or crisis.
On the involvement of Partners, the Alliance should count and rely on the experience and the added value represented by MS themselves, in particular Europeans, when it comes to some priority regions, namely Mediterranean, Middle East or North Africa.
Europeans are, in this framework, again a crucial pillar of the Alliance to indicate and develop with their neighbours and Partners a comprehensive approach to conflict prevention as well as post conflict strategies.
F) New transatlantic bargain I think there are some promising perspectives and a common awareness on the re-launching of our transatlantic community, which was born and has always been based on common values.
A new transatlantic community with a broader concept on one hand, a new transatlantic security bargain where Europeans and Americans shared the burden and the opportunity to be both providers and not just consumers of security.
On the other hand, a transatlantic new economic common space, starting from the visionary perspective opened by President Obama’s proposal to negotiate a EU-US trade agreement.
A highly political complementarity exists between these two pillars – since both require political choices and vision – since both require mutual trust – since both have an economical impact.
Vision and preparedness are more effective and less expensive than reaction in case of crisis.
This is why, in times of crisis and of multiplication of global players, Euro-Atlantic broader cooperation is more necessary than ever.