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Lord Robertson on ESDI and Transatlantic Defense Cooperation

Lord Robertson on ESDI and Transatlantic Defense Cooperation

NATO Secretary General in London calls for more transatlantic defense cooperation. Source: Washington File (EUR207) U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C., January 30, 2001.

NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson called on Europeans and Americans to work "to make defense trade rules more flexible and pragmatic."

"Our aim should be to achieve a genuinely new pattern of reciprocal transatlantic armaments cooperation, and to achieve it as soon as possible," Robertson told a January 29 London conference on "The Globalization of Defense Industry: Policy Implications for NATO and ESDI."

He urged North America and Europe to remove obstacles to effective defense trade by repealing or liberalizing protectionist legislation and "resolving significant, specific differences on both sides of the Atlantic in areas such as mergers and acquisition practices, and technology transfer regimes."

The Kosovo air campaign revealed "a glaring transatlantic capability gap" in which the United States "had to take on a disproportionate share of the burden," Robertson pointed out. "Kosovo also showed us that we have an interoperability problem between the Allies."

The Euro-Atlantic community needs to address this capability gap and get the best equipment tight defense budgets will allow if Europe is to "meet its aspirations, and be a stronger partner to North America in security, but also if we want to make sure that NATO continues to be able to carry out its missions effectively in the future."

Kosovo also "showed us that, as we enter the 21st Century, Europe must play a greater role in preserving Euro-Atlantic security," Robertson said.

There needs to be "a stronger contribution from European nations to NATO operations," he said, and additionally "Europe needs to develop the capacity to take action where NATO as a whole is not involved, so that the Alliance is not dragged into conflicts simply because Europe has no capacity to handle them on its own."

Robertson also stressed the importance of close consultation between the European Union and NATO, avoidance of duplication, participation by non-EU NATO members in EU-led operations, availability of NATO assets for EU-led operations, and "full coherence in defense planning between the two organizations."

He noted that the decline in European defense budgets "has generally been arrested," but that European nations "are still deficient in key assets and capabilities." Thus, transatlantic cooperation is essential for enhancing interoperability, technological innovation, and affordability.

Text of Lord Rogbertson's remarks: "ESDI and Transatlantic Defence Cooperation" - 010129


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).