29 September 2016

Welcome everyone to ATA HQ, it is indeed a pleasure to see so many friends and distinguished guests.

Please rest assured that today’s engagement is under strict Chatham House Rule and that you are all encouraged to relax, eat while we talk, and take advantage of the time we have set aside for Q+A.

For those of you who are not familiar, the Atlantic Treaty Association was founded in 1954 as a network of think-tanks and NGOs, working in 37 different countries to coordinate security and defense policy between the respective Ministries of Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs along with NATO HQ. Our 5 key issues this year are Counter-Terrorism, Russia, Women in Security, Energy security and defense spending. In addition we work with 5 target audience, which are diplomats, academics, military, journalists and industry. Thus we are deeply honoured to be joined by you all here today.

As dev.atahq.orgorks with many of the key policy-makers across the Alliance and its Partner nations, we want to use this opportunity to bring to your attention some of our key programs taking place over the next few months which include our ongoing ATA-NATO Alignment Meetings, our flagship Riga Conference in October, our upcoming NATO-EU engagement with MEPs and Commissioners in November along with our counter-terrorism programming in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and our work alongside key EU + UK officials in Wilton Park taking place early next year.

Now looking to what brings us all here today….

Last year, NATO’s European allies spent 253 billion USD on defence compared with a US spend of 618 billion. According to the 2 percent guideline, European countries should be spending an additional 100 billion USD annually on their militaries.

While the current average defense budget is equivalent to around 1,43 percent of GDP.

Now according to the Summit communique, 6 billion in additional spending is planned for 2016, demonstrating that the Alliance has turned a corner.

The Baltic states pledged to make the biggest changes as Latvia’s budget will raise with nearly 60 per cent this year, while Lithuania will see a 35 per cent increase and Estonia 9 per cent. Moreover, this year’s host of the Summit, Poland, the main military power in Central Europe also pledged to raise its defence expenditure by 9 per cent.

However, deployability remains a measure of the percentage of the forces a country can deploy, while sustainability measures how long they can keep them in the field.

The lag between investments in military equipment and the ability of a country to deploy and sustain its troops means that even though NATO has begun to reverse years of defence cuts, it will take time for that spending to turn into the real time capabilities that we need.

So where is the solution…

To us it is simple, it depends on many of you who have joined us here today.

NCI Agency General Manager stated: The Alliance has been able to maintain the technological edge over its adversaries for 67 years because of the innovative capacity of the private sector.

Today’s technological change is driven by Industry and because of this, one of NATO’s most critical tasks is to engage industry in the policy making process to ensure they tap into the innovation and creativity that all of you here today bring to the Alliance.

This is the core objective that brings us here today, for ATA to gather all relevant partners and new actors into the policy-making process.

We do this because we believe that leaders of industries developing top-notch technologies are more relevant in the defense of our nations than at any point before.

Working in close synergy with key officials like Liviu and Patrick enforces ATA’s role in providing a comfortable and informative setting where officials and industry can meet and share insights for common goals.

NATO recognizes this, as the Warsaw Summit announced a larger investment in the Alliance’ deterrence and defence capabilities.

Thus, in parallel with the Warsaw Summit was the NCI’s announcement of an additional 3 billion Euro investment in defence technology that will strengthen the Alliance’s cyber, air and missile defence and advance software capabilities, which is planned to happen between now and 2019.

For the first time, since 2009, NATO’s overall defence expenditures have increased in 2016. In the two recent years, the majority of the members have halted or reversed decline in defence spending in real terms.

And thereby the NATO alliance has taken one step further in ensuring that forces assigned to the Alliance are properly equipped and interoperable to undertake the full range of military missions that we will be deploying to in the future.

A strong, innovative and strategic dialogue between NATO and the defence industry is essential to the future security and defence sector and ATA’s role in facilitating this will continue.

I would like to thank you again, for participating in this roundtable, and taking part of what is key to a successful adaption for the NATO Alliance: cooperation with industries, cooperation with governments and cooperation with other relevant organisations.

Thank you.