The independent resource on global security

1. Euro-Atlantic security institutions and relationships


I. Introduction

II. Managing estrangement

III. Russia’s policy

IV. The European Union

V. Atlantic community security cooperation

VI. Conclusions


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During 2007 the main Euro-Atlantic actors confronted renewed estrangements and managed old ones. The outstanding features of this dynamic were sharpened differences between Russia and other states of the Euro-Atlantic community, the challenges confronting the European Union’s cohesion and efficiency and the lack of purpose of the Atlantic community’s security cooperation. Greater pragmatism characterized the United States’ security policy.


The most significant development in Euro-Atlantic relations in 2007 was Russia’s restored confidence and aspirations to equal status in security matters with its Western partners. Increasingly assured by the lucrative exploitation of its natural resources and emboldened by their use as a successful political weapon, Russia has returned to its traditional policy of playing its European partners against each other—seeking to weaken the transatlantic ties and to reassert its influence over the former Soviet states. At the same time, Russia appears eager to maintain cooperative relations with the West and it is unlikely to risk challenging it too forcefully.


The EU adopted the Lisbon Treaty, which broadly maintains the main elements of the rejected 2004 Constitutional Treaty, especially in foreign and security policy areas. However, the EU has not yet fully recovered from the Constitutional Treaty debacle, which has considerably hampered its programme for the wider European neighbourhood, external relations and common foreign and security policy. The EU can now harness its considerable potential by translating the new legal framework into political action. Yet the treaty ratification processes and the differences over leadership and new competences may absorb the EU’s energies by emphasizing once again national preferences and opt-outs rather than genuine foreign agendas.


The challenges of the transatlantic partnership are increasingly global. Consensus and commitment are difficult to achieve and sustain. When acting together, the partnership still suffers from self-imposed constraints, divergent approaches or insufficient leverage. The European–US rapprochement that emerged in 2007 was based more on acknowledged weaknesses than projected strengths. In the USA, the policies that had diminished the country’s influence and prestige at home and abroad have largely been abandoned in favour of a more pragmatic approach to world affairs. Yet the USA remains heavily involved in Iraq and its diplomatic impact has shrunk globally. With a pending election, no foreseeable exit from Iraq and a worsening economy, the USA may become more inward-looking. Thus, transition will be the Euro-Atlantic community’s theme in 2008 and 2009.



Dr Jean-Yves Haine (Belgium) is a Researcher with the SIPRI Euro-Atlantic, Regional and Global Security Project.


Dr Gunilla Herolf (Sweden) is a Senior Guest Researcher with the SIPRI Euro-Atlantic, Regional and Global Security Project.


Dr Zdzislaw Lachowski (Poland) is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Euro-Atlantic, Regional and Global Security Project.

Gunilla Herolf