Strategic Partnership

The “European Union-NATO Declaration on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)” and the “Berlin Plus” arrangements are the basic documents for the EU-NATO strategic partnership.

The strategic partnership established between the European Union and NATO in crisis management is founded on shared values and on the indivisibility of the security dimension in the 21st century.

Whereas NATO remains the foundation of the collective defence of its members, the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has added to the range of instruments already at the EU’s disposal the capacity to conduct crisis-management operations independently.

NATO and the EU reaffirm their determination to strengthen their capabilities: for NATO, reserving a stronger role for Europe will take the form of increased vitality, specifically in the field of crisis management.

Common principles

The Declaration solemnly affirms the principles on which the strategic partnership between the two organisations is founded:

  • partnership, which mutually reinforces two organisations of a different nature;
  • effective mutual consultation, dialogue, cooperation and transparency;
  • equality and due regard for the decision-making autonomy and interests of the European Union and NATO;
  • respect for the interests of the Member States of the European Union and NATO;
  • respect for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations;
  • coherent, transparent and mutually reinforcing development of the military capability requirements common to the two organisations.


Three objectives are identified:

  • the European Union will ensure the fullest possible involvement of the non-EU European members of NATO within ESDP;
  • NATO will support ESDP and give the European Union assured access to NATO’s planning capabilities;
  • both organisations will adopt arrangements to ensure the coherent, transparent and mutually reinforcing development of their common capability requirements.

Berlin Plus” arrangements

The “Berlin Plus” arrangements, concluded on 17 March 2003, lay the foundations for NATO-EU cooperation in the field of crisis management: they enable the Alliance to support EU-led operations in which NATO as a whole is not committed.

The main elements of these arrangements can be summarised as follows:

  • assured access of the EU to NATO planning capabilities with a view to effective use in the context of military planning of EU-led crisis management operations;
  • post of Deputy to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) – who will command EU-led operations (and who is always a European) – and NATO European command options;
    assured access to NATO’s collective assets and capabilities (communication units, headquarters, etc.) for EU-led crisis management operations;
  • NATO-EU agreement on security (exchange of classified information under the rules of mutual protection);
  • procedures to follow for the management of NATO assets and capabilities (release, monitoring, return and recall);
  • NATO-EU consultation arrangements in the context of an EU-led crisis management operation calling on NATO assets and capabilities;
  • integration in NATO’s longstanding defence planning system of the military requirements and capabilities which may be needed for EU-led military operations, in order to guarantee the availability of well-equipped forces trained for either NATO-led or EU-led operations.

This article is derived from European Union public sector information. EU public information is reproduced pursuant to Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents (2011/833/EU) (the EU Decision).

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