The short time remaining before NATO’s Brussels Summit in July was evident in much that took place during the Spring Session. Improved NATO defensive measures in the east, stability in NATO’s immediate vicinity, NATO cooperation with the European Union, modernisation of the alliance command structure and economic burden-sharing between Europe and the United States will be key topics at the summit. All of this was touched upon during the Spring Session in Warsaw.
“The session provided a good update on the alliance situation ahead of the summit,” said Christian Tybring-Gjedde, the Head of Delegation. “The ambition for NATO member states to spend two per cent of their gross national product on defence by 2024 was underscored and elaborated. It is good to see that most countries have made progress on this.”
As usual during the spring session, a variety of draft reports were submitted for discussion in the assembly in advance of their adoption at the Annual Session in Halifax in November.
“Although there is disagreement in some areas, I believe it was confirmed that NATO countries hold a common set of values. At a time when alliance cohesion is sometimes called into question, that was a positive experience,” says Mr Tybring-Gjedde.
The Spring Session was held in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish national assembly. This year marks the centenary of Poland’s independence. The Polish president, prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister all addressed the Spring Session, focusing on the country’s commitments to the alliance and its emphasis on the security of NATO’s eastern flank.
Among the participants in the plenary session on Monday 28 May was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg delivered an energetic speech before answering questions from the assembly.
“It’s of course the parliaments of individual countries that set the premise for government defence policies and ultimately adopt the defence budgets,” notes Hårek Elvenes. “Stoltenberg made it clear the burden-sharing must be more equal, both in terms of taking responsibility for raising defence budgets to a sound level and increasing force contributions to international operations.”
Trond Helleland thinks the NATO PA serves an important function for NATO countries.
“NATO PA sessions are a good way of staying up to date on developments in the different alliance countries. Stoltenberg’s message was well received across the alliance,” says Mr Helleland.