Policy Areas

Norwegian involvement in security and defence co-operation

Over the last few years, important steps have been taken to increase European crisis management capabilities within the EU itself and within the framework of EU-NATO co-operation. Norway is firmly committed to this endeavour. A coherent and capable Europe is a significant force for peace and stability.

05/09/2008 :: The arrangements laid down in the Berlin+ and the Nice-documents constitute an essential framework for co-operation between the EU and NATO and offer an opportunity for contributions to the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) by Allied European Non-EU countries.

Building on these arrangements, Norway contributes to the ESDP in a number of ways, i.e. through the multinational Swedish-led EU Battle Group currently on stand by for EU and through force contributions to the EU force catalogue and EU-led military operations. Norway also takes an active part in EU capability development, technology and armaments related co-operation. In 2006 Norway signed an administrative arrangement with the European Defence Agency (EDA).

Contribution to EU-led military operations
The so-called Berlin+ arrangements lay down the co-operative arrangements between EU and NATO for crisis management. The arrangement grants the EU access to NATO planning and resources for EU-led operations. Norway is committed to making these arrangements work. Norwegian forces participated in the first ever EU-led military operation “Concordia” in Macedonia in 2003, conducted with access to NATO assets and capabilities. Until February this year (2008) Norway also contributed to the ongoing EU-led Berlin+ operation in Bosnia, “Althea”, that took over after NATO’s SFOR operation in December 2004.

In December 2004 Norway signed a framework agreement with the EU on Norwegian participation in EU civilian and military crisis management operations. The agreement lays down the administrative guidelines and procedures for Norwegian participation in such operations. It was implemented for the first time in connection with Norwegian participation in the operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In November the same year Norway also concluded an agreement with the EU on security procedures for the exchange of classified information.

Involvement in EU Capability Efforts
Since 2000 Norway has offered a substantial force contribution to the EU Force catalogue. Norway has offered 3500 troops to the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF), supplemented by air and maritime force elements.

Norway also contributes to the EU Battle Group concept, offering 150 personnel to a multinational Swedish-led Battle Group together with Finland and Estonia. The Battle Group Concept is a significant development. In addition to providing an effective European crisis management tool, the concept will make European forces more interoperable, deployable and therefore more usable.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the participating countries provides a framework document for the joint Battle Group. In addition an exchange of letters between Norway and the EU states the overall principles governing the conditions Norwegian participation.

The Swedish-led Battle Group was on stand-by for EU the spring of 2008 and will be on stand-by again in the first half of 2011.
Emphasis on the EU-NATO relations
Making EU-NATO relations work is a high priority for Norway. Close and good co-operation between NATO and the EU is important both for European security and for the Allies to be able to support peace and stability beyond the European continent. With today’s complex security challenges we are dependent on a fruitful and open dialog between the two organisations, both on the strategic and on the practical level.

There is a clear need for, and efforts should be made to establish a relationship based on complementary. This co-operation should not be limited to purely operational issues, but also include planning of EU-led operations as well as co-ordination of the force- and defence planning in the two organisations. Close military co-operation is important in order for non-EU Allies, including Norway, to adapt our own contributions to the EU’s requirements. NATO-EU arrangements should reflect the political ambition of strengthening a mutually reinforcing partnership between NATO and the EU.

(Updated March 2008)

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Minister of Defence Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen.