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British-German Defence Co-operation in NATO: Finding Common Ground on European Security

Lisa Aronsson and Patrick Keller
Occasional Papers, 18 May 2012
International Security Studies, NATO, Germany, UK, Defence Policy
A joint paper with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung looks at the prospects for - and necessity of - British-German defence co-operation

In December 2011 and February 2012, the Royal United Services Institute and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung jointly convened two seminars as part of ongoing efforts to improve understanding between London and Berlin, and to consolidate leadership in European defence. Each brought together British and German government officials, industry representatives, analysts and academics.

Discussion focused on bilateral defence co-operation, and British and German perspectives of the evolution of NATO from the Lisbon Summit to Chicago and beyond.

In the first seminar, British speakers focused on NATO's successes in Libya, the continuing relevance of the Strategic Concept and the challenges that national sovereignty poses for multinational co-operation and specialisation. The German participants highlighted the centrality of Article V, and the need to re-balance political attention among NATO's core tasks of collective defence, co-operative security and crisis management. The seminar in Berlin examined some of the Chicago Summit agenda items, such as Smart Defence, Afghanistan, future operations and partnerships.

Discussion addressed the geographic re-balancing of the American strategy and challenges in NATO-Russia relations and their implications for NATO and European security. Participants agreed that NATO will have to re-orient itself towards a wider 'West' that stretches from America's Pacific coast much further to the east and south, and that it will also have to take more responsibility for defence in Europe and in its neighbourhood.

This paper presents the authors' reflections on these seminar discussions, preliminary results and impulses derived from the dialogue.

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