NATO’s view: burden sharing between the allies
During Munich Security Conference NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted the achievements of the alliance: “For almost 70 years, the partnership between Europe and North America has ensured peace, freedom and prosperity. It enabled us to successfully deter the Soviet Union, and bring the Cold War to an end, and this partnership also enabled the integration of Europe. European leaders have always understood that going it alone is not an option. And, after two world wars that started in Europe, American leaders know that they have a profound strategic interest in a stable and secure Europe.
The only time we have invoked our collective defence clause, Article 5, was after an attack on the United States, terrorist attacks on 9/11 in 2001. This was more than just a gesture. Hundreds of thousands of European and Canadian soldiers have served in Afghanistan in the last 16 years. Around a thousand have paid the ultimate price. This bond between Europe and North America, embodied in the NATO Alliance, remains essential for both. Europe needs North America and North America needs Europe. Together, we are responding to a changing security environment. NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.”
An especially positive signal lies in the increasing defence budgets, Stoltenberg pointed out. These signals – marked by the self-commitment of the Heads of State to spent 2% GDP on defence and therefore end the time of declining budgets – have been a signal towards the world that NATO did not loose it’s power or importance with the end of the Cold War, but still is and will be the pillar on which the defence of its member nations built upon.
“Burden sharing is not just about spending. It’s also about the skilled troops and high-end capabilities for NATO operations. And the political will to come to each other’s defence. NATO’s new enhanced forward presence is an example of burden sharing. Four battlegroups involving 15 European Allies are deploying to the Baltic States and Poland. Sending a clear signal of solidarity. A strong European defence also contributes to fairer burden-sharing,” Stoltenberg said before remarking:
“Because a strong Europe cannot mean Europe alone. Just as I don’t believe ‘America First’ means ‘America Alone’. That is the core of our transatlantic bond: NATO is strong because we stand together.”