NATO, the EU, OECD grew big. Together with climate change and energy security, challenges have become much more complicated then before. So, strong institutions are needed. Looking to Greece and the euro, Germany pushed decisions and not the European Commission. Heads of states are excercising their influence more and more.

NATO needs to manage and to restructure its finance, otherwise operations could not survive. The EU should take its own responsibility. Not through an imperial role, but through a solid foreign policy, covered by the foreign ministers of EU member states. Note that the UK and France have always an alternative in world politics and that 'Lisbon' has given Europe structure.

On 21st April 2010, the Montesquieu Institute (*) and MA European Union Studies welcomed the former Secretary General of NATO, who gave a long awaited lecture on NATO-EU relations. To set the framework, was argued that the world changed fundamentally in the 21st century and that both, the EU and NATO had to redefine their role in this new, multipolar constellation. In comparison to the Cold War when the world was deeply divided and at the edge of conflict, this century sees new powers emerging and becomes less predictable. He then pointed out that the EU had to recognise that it was not at the centre of world politics any more due to new emerging powers like the BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India and China) whose economic power will translate in political power in the long run. Furthermore, new challenges arise from so-called asymmetric threats like terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the security dimension of climate change, cyber-warfare and energy-security.

Having elaborated on the state of play, Mr De Hoop-Scheffer turned to NATO, its relevance and responsibilities. He described NATO as a transatlantic forum of military and political consultation. Although the bipolar world, in which this alliance was created, does not exist anymore, the new threats justify its mandate. Speaking of NATO’s responsibilities, Mr De Hoop-Scheffer named guaranteeing the integrity of its members and maintaining law and order, not only in its initial sphere, but increasingly in the Islamic world, like Afghanistan or Sudan. He demonstrated that NATO faces new difficulties in this situation due to completely different cultural environments and new tasks. Taking Afghanistan as an example, NATO is not confronted with a classical war situation, but has to provide aid and reconstruction measures on the one hand and counter-insurgency strategies on the other.

As far as the remit of NATO is concerned, De Hoop-Scheffer emphasised new challenges in relations to Russia connected with NATO’s sphere of influence and the question of whether potential members like Georgia should be able to join. In that case, the NATO principle of “An attack against one is an attack against all” could pose threats to relations with Russia. These complex relations are also the reason why he pointed towards the need of a consistent EU policy towards Russia, which is not in place yet.

Mr De Hoop-Scheffer concluded with the relationship between NATO and the EU, which he described as difficult and competitive. He named difficulties of EU-Turkey relationship in view of Cyprus as one of the reasons. Nevertheless, he stressed the need of international organisations in today’s world as he considers them to be the most capable of finding answers to current challenges. According to him, it would be the only way for medium and small states to get their voices heard. Simultaneously, he regretted the current trend towards intergovernmentalism in the EU as this exactly hinders that objective.

After this insightful lecture and vivid question and answer session, participants were invited to the informal borrel carried out by Campus the Hague and the Montesquieu Institute to further discuss the topic.

(*) The Montesquieu Institute for the study of comparative European parliamentary history and constitutional development. The Institute is a multifunctional centre for comparative studies, education, dialogue and debate. It supports those involved in fostering and strengthening democracy. It aims at serving students and specific target groups such as parliamentarians and other politicians, civil servants, educators, journalists and those employed by interest groups