On the 4th of April 2018, the sixth “NATO-EU Roundtable” took place at Tallinn University. The conference was organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in cooperation with the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and NATO Headquarters. Its goal is to bring together experts, politicians, policymakers as well as young professionals and students. This year’s conference focused on the NATO-EU political and military cooperation, particularly in the domain of countering hybrid threats, cyber defence and strategic communication.
The welcoming remarks were presented by Mr. Hannes Hanso, Chairman of the National Defence Committee of Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament). He stressed that NATO-EU cooperation is not optional anymore, but obligatory, as both organisations add value to defence and to one another. He also noted that it is important to move accordingly to the threats as the current time simply requires that. Hanso also brought up military mobility as one important challenge that organisations are currently facing.
The conference was divided into two parts. The conference started with an overview of NATO-EU relations by Eric Povel, the Programme Officer in the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO HQ, and Paavo Palk, Deputy Head of the European Commission Representation in Tallinn. Povel noted that the main challenges are diplomatic hurdles where the states that are NATO members but not EU members must be involved in as much as possible, both in confrontations and discussions. He stated that synchronisation between the two is highly important. Palk noted that the EU has to keep stressing that a stronger EU role in the world would only complement NATO.
Following the introduction were three panel discussions. The topic of the first discussion was “NATO-EU Cooperation in Countering Hybrid Threats – From Past Origins to Future Prospects”. The second panel focused on NATO-EU cyber defence cooperation and the third and final panel concerned the “NATO-EU Cooperation in Strategic Communication and Defence Against Information Operations”.
During the second part of the conference, the students had the opportunity to participate in a simulation, in which they could act as policymakers and government leaders. They were given different future scenarios and had to come up with creative solutions to stabilize crisis regions across the globe as well as approaches for sustainable cooperation between the EU and NATO.