12 December 2013 - Speaking at the conclusion of the Atlantic Treaty Association General Assembly in Brussels on 11 December, NATO PA President Hugh Bayley (United Kingdom) outlined his vision of the four tasks for the upcoming NATO Summit to be held in the United Kingdom in September 2014: confirm the Alliance’s post-2014 commitment to Afghanistan; change “the way NATO does business”; clarify to publics on both sides of the Atlantic why NATO is still needed; and agree the terms for future enlargements.
On Afghanistan, he called for Allies, as NATO’s combat mission comes to an end, to “reinvest a proportion of the money we’ve spent for security as a peace dividend for economic development”. “Short of this reinvestment “we would run the risk of losing the gains we made over the past decade”, he warned.
At the same time, NATO needed to change the way it does business, Mr Bayley stressed. He called in particular for greater transparency, pointing to recent progress in the publication of NATO’s audit reports, an issue he had long championed within the NATO PA.
Related to this, Allied governments and parliaments needed to do more to explain to their citizens what they get out of NATO and to address current perceptions of an unfair sharing of the burden within the Alliance.
While welcoming renewed focus on joint capability development as part of NATO’s Smart Defence and the EU’s Pooling and Sharing initiatives, Mr Bayley warned that “it would be wrong to believe that this will make good for decreases in our defence spending”. He pointed out that the gains achieved through Smart Defence and Pooling and Sharing amounted to only one eighth of the value of the cuts in defence spending. He therefore supported increased defence spending once economic growth returns. He also urged European nations to address the capability shortfalls highlighted by recent operations in Libya and Mali. “If you look at defence as an insurance policy”, Mr Bayley argued, “it is no use pointing to the premiums you’ve paid in the past, you have to pay them now”.
At the same time, he stressed that the United States would always turn to Europe first when it looked for allies. “There is no comparable alliance or collective security architecture in Asia”, he noted, adding that “we may not be the perfect allies, but we’re by far the best they’ve got”.
Concluding on the need to increase public outreach ahead of the NATO Summit, Mr Bayley stressed the important role that the ATA and NATO PA could play as conduits for the views of citizens across the Alliance.