NATO Summit Could Focus on Building NATO’s European Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In just a few weeks, our nation’s capital will host the NATO summit. Leaders of NATO are expected to discuss issues like the war in Ukraine. Researchers believe another key topic will be about strengthening the European component of NATO especially if the US will pull back their contributions to the alliance. 

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization analyzing global issues, held a discussion about strengthening NATO’s European pillar. Meaning the European member nations. The strength of NATO’s European pillar has been in question since its founding in the 1940s. CSIS researchers shared what former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright warned 25 years ago of the emerging European and security defense identity: 

“Should avoid duplicating, decoupling and discriminating against NATO allies,” said Max Bergmann, Director of CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program and Stuart Center. 

The US plays an influential role in the NATO alliance. It’s also the largest contributor to the alliance. There’s pressure for Europe to do more for its own defense. NATO leaders worry if former President Donald Trump wins the election, he would pull out of the alliance. But Trump has since said the US would stay in the alliance as long as other countries contribute their fair share. CSIS researchers argue that if there was pull back from the US, even a slight pull back, European nations can hold their own without help from America. 

“I think the idea that Europe can’t defend itself is somewhat overdone,” said Sean Monaghan, CSIS Fellows. 

Leading up to the NATO summit, CSIS researchers said NATO has been effective in helping Ukraine push back against Russia’s aggression. Moving forward, there should be less fear around less US attention on NATO and list ways European countries can build a stronger pillar: 

“More cash which is defense spending which is 3 percent in Europe; more capabilities to fill the gaps; more combat power addressing readiness and industrial capacity and finally more cooperation in Europe,” said Monaghan.