Government response to individual
conclusions of the Report
(a) We do not agree that NATO is dying. We believe
that NATO makes a vital contribution to Euro-Atlantic security
and that this is no less necessary in the post Cold War world,
despite the change in the nature of the threat. Its missions in
peace-keeping and promoting interoperability remain important.
We do, however, recognise the danger of the Alliance becoming
less relevant if it fails to face up to the need to adapt to the
post-11 September context. Prague provides the opportunity for
change and a failure to address the issues there could have serious
and detrimental consequences for the future of NATO. (Paragraph
· The Government agrees that the Prague
Summit presents Allied leaders with a unique opportunity: to transform
NATO to make it as firm a guarantee of our security in the future
as it has been in the past.
· The Government recognises the fundamental
change in international security brought about by the attacks
of 11 September. By invoking Article 5 NATO sent the strongest
possible signal of Alliance solidarity in the face of the new
threats of terrorism. Now NATO needs to make sure that it is structured
and equipped to act effectively in response to the full range
of security risks.
· The Government fully recognises the potential
consequences of failing to address the issues and achieving the
right outcome at Prague. That is precisely why the UK is working
so hard towards getting the right decisions at the Summit, and
is using every opportunity to articulate the issues and to encourage
Allies to move in the same direction. Indications so far are encouraging.
(b) We believe that NATO should be a tough organisation
to be a member of. The UK Government has a strong belief in NATO
and in the need to retain the Alliance's role as a capable military
alliance, and it is therefore prepared to push for high standards
for new entrants, even when this makes it unpopular. We wholeheartedly
support this approach. (Paragraph 79)
(c) We see no obstacle in principle to the issuing
of invitations to each of the seven applicants (although in Slovakia's
case this must be with the caveat of the outcome of the September
elections) with the proviso that applicants continue to work hard
on defence and political reforms up to and beyond any invitation
issued at Prague. (Paragraph 79)
(d) We heard universal praise in the applicant
countries for the assistance which UK defence advisers are providing,
and for the range of other activities which the UK is funding
and contributing to. There were many requests for this assistance
to carry on after the Prague Summit and we strongly support this.
(e) We believe that mentoring countries invited
to join the Alliance at Prague would be a very worthwhile use
of resources and would provide an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate
its positive attitude to NATO enlargement. (Paragraph 85)
· The Government agrees with the Committee's
views on enlargement. The Government is following closely the
efforts of individual aspirants to reform their armed forces and
defence structures. NATO needs new members who can effectively
integrate into the Alliance, can genuinely contribute to NATO
missions and will enhance NATO's ability to act.
· No decision has yet been taken on who
will be invited at Prague. The Government will make a decision
closer to Prague having completed all the necessary assessments
and in consultation with Allies.
· We expect countries invited at Prague
to continue with the reform and investment needed to be effective
members on accession. This is an integral part of the Membership
Action Plan process which will continue after Prague. NATO will
need high level political commitment from invitees to keep to
an agreed timetable for their reforms.
· The UK enjoys very good bilateral relations
with aspirant members of the Alliance. The Government will continue
to offer aspirants and invitees every support after Prague.
· For invitees the Government would be happy
to build on existing assistance, suitably adapted to their new
status. This might include tailoring of existing co-operation
programmes, as well as assistance in new areas.
(f) We believe that, given the importance of the
region's stability and its potential to assist in combating international
terrorism, NATO should place a higher priority than it has done
previously on revitalising the Mediterranean Dialogue and that
the UK government should be active in pushing for progress in
this area. (Paragraph 91)
· Improvements to NATO's partnership programmes,
including Mediterranean Dialogue, NATO-Russia and NATO-Ukraine,
are high on the Prague agenda.
· NATO members fully recognise the importance
of the Mediterranean Dialogue to our security interests in the
region. The UK Government wants to see Partnership aimed increasingly
at developing stability to NATO's south, building on progress
already made through the Mediterranean Dialogue, and focussing
on practical projects. At the UK's initiative, the Alliance has
worked up an inventory of co-operative activity to offer to Mediterranean
(g) The developments in NATO-Russia relations,
particularly since 11 September, have been exciting and promise
a great deal. We shall be watching their progress with interest.
Despite the disappointment of the PJC, NATO is right to take this
opportunity to test Russia's willingness to engage constructively
in important common security issues. And, correspondingly, NATO
should be wary of giving the impression of any 'pre-cooking' of
decisions. (Paragraph 99)
· The new NATO/Russia Council, operating
"at 20", is a major step forward and offers the potential
for a fundamental change for the better in European security.
The priority is now on making the NATO/Russia Council work programme
succeed. Progress has been encouraging, with a freer exchange
of views than ever experienced under the old PJC mechanism. We
expect concrete progress in a number of areas by the end of the
year, in particular peacekeeping, TMD and search and rescue at
sea. Co-operation in the counter-terrorism field has been productivethe
NRC has already agreed a joint threat assessment on SFOR and KFOR
forces, other joint assessments are in the pipeline.
· It will also be important that joint decisions,
which we have taken on the basis of consensus, address real challenges
and enable us to deliver real results. Only through working together
in this way can we achieve the common objective of strengthened
security. The UK is careful to guard against unjustified attempts
to pre-co-ordinate Alliance positions.
(h) A question which needs to be answered during
the 12 months of the Greek presidency of the EU on defence matters
is whether the present impasse on the use of NATO assets for EU-led
missions in fact demonstrates the unsoundness of the ESDP in principle.
If this is not the case, the Greek government must be persuaded
to resolve its internal problems and allow the agreement between
NATO and the EU on use of NATO assets to be formalised. (Paragraph
· The principles of ESDP are clear and sound.
There is a trans-Atlantic and trans-European consensus that a
close EU-NATO relationship is essential. However, difficult issues
of security are under discussion. This is not just an issue for
Greece: any solution has to be acceptable to all EU and NATO members.
The Government is hopeful that this can be resolved soon and stands
ready to offer assistance.
NB: The report states that the UK is leading ECAP
panels on strategic air and sea lift. That is inaccurate. We are
leading the panel "Outsize Transport Aircraft", but
not a sea lift panel.
(i) US involvement is essential to NATO's continuing
existence. The US must make it clear what it expects of European
Allies and must be prepared to engage properly with NATO as an
alliance. There is considerable uncertainty, if not suspicion,
among some European members as to the true nature of the US's
commitment. But the Europeans must also pull their weight. We
emphasise the importance we place on NATO having a future as an
effective functioning organisation. (Paragraph 123)
(j) We believe that capabilities are key both
to NATO's future and to US engagement. (Paragraph 124)
(k) NATO members have expressed good intentions
about capabilities on many occasions in the past. The Prague Summit
will test whether, this time, Allies have the resolve necessary
to achieve real improvements in capabilities or whether the new
initiative will just be another false dawn. (Paragraph 132)
(l) Despite the very real challenges that improving
capabilities presents, it is vital that clear progress is made
by NATO leaders at Prague. It is a crucial factor in ensuring
that the United States remains interested and engaged in NATO
and that it is prepared to call on NATO in future operations.
As our predecessors noted, improving capabilities requires the
necessary political will and co-operation, combined with adequate
financial resources. NATO as an organisation cannot compel its
member states to spend money on defence or to spend it appropriately.
This relies on each of the Allies fulfilling the commitments which
NATO membership demands, and to which they have signed up. If
NATO is to remain a credible military organisation then we believe
that all of its members must fulfil their commitments to improve
capabilities. This means having defence budgets which effectively
deliver those capabilities. (Paragraph 141)
· The Government has no doubts about the
United States' commitment to NATO. But if the Alliance is to be
able to achieve its missions, all members must demonstrate that
they are willing and able to play their part, perhaps most importantly
by developing and funding the appropriate military capability
that will allow them to work effectively together. The UK's recently
announced increase in defence spending strongly signals our intent.
· The key to NATO's future success lies
in acquiring the right capabilities to deal with the range of
threats, including Weapons of Mass Destruction and terrorism,
and in having the right structures to employ these capabilities.
· The new capabilities initiative to be
launched at Prague will need to be more focused than DCI, and
must be backed up with allocation of sufficient resources. The
Government shares the Committee's view that the key to success
will depend on the political resolve of NATO members.
(m) The UK has frequently been at the forefront
in pushing for reform in NATO. We expect the Government to continue
to use all the persuasion and leverage at its disposal before
and at the Prague Summit to secure the necessary reforms in NATO
structures. (Paragraph 146)
(n) NATO needs to be innovative and open-minded
in its approach to its working practices. Only by taking decisive
and clearly thought-through steps to secure administrative reform
will it ensure that it remains an effective organisation which
is uniquely capable of taking military action, and avoid unnecessarily
bureaucratic procedures which might hamper its ability to act.
(o) We strongly support the view that any new
command structure should be based on tasks and capabilities, not
on geography. We accept that most Allies are anxious to have a
NATO asset on their soil but we believe that this should not determine
the command structure. The UK is in a position to take the lead
in driving change in this area as it has no particular vested
interest to protect and we expect the Government to be pressing
for meaningful reform in this area at Prague. (Paragraph 158)
· The Government agrees with the Committees'
points on reform. NATO's structures and processes need further
adaptation to ensure that the Alliance remains efficient and effective.
The UK will continue to be at the forefront in pushing for significant
reform at Prague in support of the Secretary General's proposals,
tabled at the Spring Ministerials.
· NATO must have command and force structures
which provide greater flexibility and deployability and are based
on actual operational need. The structures must allow for a streamlined
yet flexible command chain, which allows our service men and women
to do their job properly.
· There has been an emerging consensus among
Allies on the agenda for Prague, and on the need for substantial
modernisation of the Alliance's structures and processes, if NATO
is to retain its efficiency and effectiveness.