Sweden and NATO

Sweden's cooperation with NATO is based on our policy of military non-alignment. This cooperation builds both on our participation in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and the Partnership for Peace (PfP), including our participation in NATO-led peace-support operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, and on cooperation between the EU and NATO on EU-led crisis management operations.

When NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) was formed in 1949, the core of the organisation was the collective defence obligation that was based on Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO's role as a security-building organisation has gained increasing prominence. New tasks have become evermore important, such as promoting peace and stability in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and participating in international crisis management operations, such as in Afghanistan. In practice, military crisis management has become the alliance's main task.

NATO currently has 26 member countries. They are Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the USA. Albania and Croatia were invited to join at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008, and they will become full members in spring 2009. A number of other countries have stated that membership of NATO is their political objective.

NATO's principle decision-making body is the North Atlantic Council, which consists of representatives of all NATO member countries. Decisions in NATO are made by consensus. The political headquarters is located in Brussels.

PfP and EAPC

Sweden currently has close and extensive cooperation with NATO. Sweden has cooperated with NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) since 1994. The PfP is a functional cooperation programme between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe, Central Asia and Southern Caucasus. It has become particularly important as an instrument for the participating countries to coordinate, prepare and train their forces for peace-keeping operations. In this way we also benefit from our PfP cooperation ahead of peace-support operations under UN and EU command.

The PfP also has a security-building dimension. Through participation in the PfP, Sweden wants to help in building a pan-European security order for a more stable and more secure Europe. The PfP is also an important component of Sweden's participation in international peace-support operations and for development of our crisis management capability.

The basis of the PfP is that every country decides the areas and the ways in which it wants to cooperate with NATO. In other words, we in Sweden choose the scope of our involvement based on Sweden's interests as a country that is not part of a military alliance. The overall framework for a two-year cooperation period between Sweden and NATO is set in an Individual Partnership Programme (IPP).

Cooperation with NATO also includes the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). EAPC was launched in 1997 as the political framework for PfP cooperation and represents a forum for information exchange and security policy dialogue between NATO and its partner countries. The countries' foreign and defence ministers meet regularly. There are monthly meetings at ambassador level, and in addition extensive work is carried out in various working groups. At present, fifty countries participate in the security policy dialogue - all the NATO countries and the 24 PfP countries.

The political dialogue also covers certain issues of a more general security policy nature in which coordination and a common policy are important. In recent years discussions have centred on cooperation to combat trafficking and terrorism, projects to fight corruption in the participating countries' armed forces and on how NATO can apply UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women in armed conflicts. The PfP has an instrument for security-building support to the partner countries in Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and the Western Balkans, where several countries are undergoing far-reaching defence reforms. Within the framework of Trust Funds, operations to destroy mines and war materiel are being implemented, as are environmentally adapted clean-up and conversion of former military bases for civilian purposes.

Joint exercises

Regular exercises are conducted under the auspices of the PfP. One aim of these exercises is to develop interoperability among the different countries' forces so that they can operate together efficiently, for example in international crisis management operations.

EU and NATO

At the European Council meeting in Helsinki on 10-11 December 1999, EU heads of state and government decided to develop the Union's military and civilian crisis management resources. The EU's new capacity is to be able to deal with the entire range of Petersberg tasks, which were incorporated into the EU by means of the Treaty of Amsterdam. These include different types of measures, from humanitarian to peace-keeping and militarily more demanding peace-enforcement operations. It would be very expensive for the EU to build up a complete crisis management organisation of its own. Instead, EU plans call for using some parts of NATO's resources. This primarily applies to NATO's capacity regarding command and strategic planning of operations. The forms of cooperation are regulated in the Berlin Plus Agreement, which consists of a number of agreements between the EU and NATO. These agreements are linked by a framework agreement reached between the EU and NATO on 17 March 2003.

That same year, the Berlin Plus arrangement was brought into play through the EU's first emergency management mission, Operation Concordia, which was deployed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The same arrangement is currently being used for the command of the EU Althea operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The EU and NATO meet regularly, including at ministerial level. In addition, there are also regular meetings between the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the North Atlantic Council, and between EU and NATO military committees.

The need for close cooperation between the EU and NATO regarding peace-support operations is becoming increasingly apparent. This is true particularly when considering that at times, both organisations have a presence in the same deployment area, such as in Kosovo and Afghanistan.