Seminar: EU and NATO capacities in a changing world
Europe/Amsterdam 01 2015 13:00
Source: Flickr / Günter Hentschel

Organisers:      Netherlands Atlantic Association & Netherlands Institute
                               for International Relations ‘Clingendael’
Date:                   Monday 22 June 2015, 13.00-17.30
Location:           Press Centre Nieuwspoort, The Hague


The changes in Europe’s security environment raise important questions about the responses of the international organisations most concerned, the European Union and NATO. The Russian interference in Ukraine has fundamentally changed the situation at Europe’s eastern borders. Article 5, NATO’s original core task, has retaken its central position as confirmed at the Wales Summit. However, the hybrid character of the new threats to the Alliance’ s East question the value of purely military responses taken under the Readiness Action Plan such as the establishment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). In addition, conflict has become the norm in large parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa (the MENA area). Islamic State has brought brutal violence to extreme levels; it has mixed irregular and regular forms of warfare, including the use of heavy weapons; and it operates as both a state and a non-state actor. The EU’s neighbourhood policy, both to the East and to the South, is outdated. The Common Security and Defence Policy, originally designed for dealing with Bosnia-type of conflicts, is in need of a review.

Responding to the changing security environment needs new strategies or policies. But EU and NATO will also have to take a new look at their capacity needs. At NATO the focus is very much on the VJTF, but the Wales Summit has also called for a review of the Alliance ‘strategic military posture’, including the improvement of robust land forces. At the same time NATO is struggling with the issue of how to respond to hybrid threats, for which the organisation seems to be ill-suited. The EU, on the other hand, has non-military instruments at its disposal to deal with these threats: diplomatic-political measures; economic, trade and energy policies; financial and economic sanctions, etc. In terms of military capacities the EU has progressed well in developing the comprehensive approach. But how valuable is this approach in conflicts where state-collapse is the dominating feature and where extreme groups show little or no willingness to return to building formerly functioning states?


The seminar’s aim is to assess the consequences of the changing security environment for the capacities the EU and NATO will need in response. This involves issues like the Alliance’s strategic military posture, the EU’s CSDP and the structure and character of the member states’ armed forces. But the question of required future capacities has wider aspects. How to respond to hybrid threats? What capacities – military and non-military – are needed? What tools do we need to deal with extremist groups in the MENA area? How to become more robust without returning to Cold War heavy armour and kinetic kill?

Seminar Programme

  • 13.00 – 13.30       
    Arrival of participants: sandwiches and drinks
  • 13.30 – 13.35       
    Opening remarks by Bram Boxhoorn, Director Netherlands Atlantic Association
  • 13.35 – 16.00       
    Panel on EU and NATO Future Capacities
  • 13.35 – 13.40       
    Introduction by the Panel Chairman, Dick Zandee, Clingendael Institute
  • 13.40 – 14.00       
    NATO’s Future Capacities, Jamie Shea*, Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Emerging Security Challenges, International Staff, NATO Headquarters
  • 14.00 – 14.10       
    An academic response, Christian Mölling*, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin
  • 14.10 – 14.30       
    The EU’s Future Capacities, Roland van Reybroeck, Director Cooperation, Planning & Support - European Defence Agency
  • 14.30 – 14.40       
    An academic response by Luis Simon*, Institute for European Studies, Free University, Brussels
  • 14.40 – 15.15       
    Panel discussion – First Round
  • 15.15 – 15.30       
    Coffee/tea break
  • 15.30 – 16.30       
    Panel discussion – Second Round
  • 16.30 – 17.30       

* = confirmed

To participation in this seminar please register through the Atlantic Association's website