In news on May 17, 2010 from NATO headquarters in Brussels, it was reported that a NATO appointed commission had made recommendations to the North Atlantic Council of NATO about its' future direction. The recommendations made by the commission, reiterate the direction that NATO has been going in since the end of the Cold War, becoming more offensively engaged in the world outside of traditional European boundaries, and for a large variety of reasons. (1)
This is in stark contrast to what NATO was formed as originally, and although one of the recommendations of the commission was for more transparency, there has been little openness or transparency about what NATO has become now, and what it is being used for, in contrast to what it was historically,
NATO was formed in 1949 as a military alliance of the U.S., Canada and Western European countries created to counter the Soviet threat. Although the Soviet Union was broken apart in the early 1990's, NATO surprisingly was left intact, though the reason for it's existence was gone. What NATO began to be used for was offensive actions, first in the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and then increasingly in other countries, outside of Europe.
Although it has been stated that NATO is striving for more transparency about what it is, in fact there has been little transparency about what is occurring with NATO and what it means to the U.S. and other member nations of NATO. Some of the primary questions regarding NATO at this point, is who controls NATO, who is making the military mission decisions for NATO and what is NATO being used for.
Although it continues to be presented in media reports that the individual member nations and their governments have sole and nationally sovereign control over NATO, as was the case historically, that has not been the case since 2003. In fact the largest degree of control and decisionmaking power in NATO resides in the European Union as an organization. On March 17, 2003, the Berlin Plus Agreements were signed. These gave the European Union rights to use NATO as a military force for the European Union and any military decisions they would make.
In the Berlin Plus Framework Agreements, the EU was given the power for use of NATO for any missions it as an organization chose, and had the power to disallow the use of NATO for any mission it did not agree to, even if all the member nations of NATO agreed to the mission.
As noted in the NATO document, "NATO-EU Security Cooperation", "in regard to "NATO-EU cooperation, "Berlin Plus allows the EU assured access to NATO operational planning, presumption of availability to the EU of NATO capabilities and common assets, NATO European command options for EU-led operations (including the European role of Deputy SACEUR), and adaptation of the NATO defense planning system to incorporate the availability of forces for EU operations." (2)
This basically grants the European Union, an organization within Europe, access to any NATO personnel from any country to be commanded by European commanders in European Union chosen missions. That includes the United States and Canada, neither of whom are members of the European Union, as is true of some other NATO members.
Also at issue is the legality of the rights of the European Union as an organization. As noted in the document, "Some Legal Issues Concerning the EU-NATO Berlin Plus Agreement", this was a right and a power that the European Union does not legally possess, since as an organization comprised of nations and not a nation itself, it had no treaty-making rights. (3)
What the Berlin Plus Agreements did was serve to cut the individual power and control of all the sovereign member nations and their militaries and their sole national power to decide how NATO would be deployed militarily. The primary power and control was shifted to the organization of the European Union. This served to cut the individual national control of the European nations who belonged to the European Union and unnecessarily duplicate their function, both as individual nations and as members of the EU. In the case of those nations who are members of NATO, but not the European Union, including the U.S. and Canada, this resulted in the European Union, which they do not belong to, being allowed to override their input as individual nations and use their troops and funds for military missions that they have no decisionmaking rights for.
One of the reasons for European Union control of NATO was stated to be because it served to fulfill the European Union's increased powers in terms of security that were part of the European Union Maastricht Treaty. However, that also calls into question what the European Union itself is being used for as it increasingly serves to cut the national sovereign power and control from the individual nations of Europe and concentrate it within a small central group within the European Union.
It also appears that certain nations in Europe, particularly
Germany and France, who have a treaty that serves to integrate their foreign
affairs decisionmaking, used another member nation military organization in
Europe, Eurocorps, to threaten the U.S. with the threat that if the United
States did not agree to let NATO be attached to the EU, for decisionmaking
control by the EU, then Europe by itself, headed by Germany and France, would
develop it's own European centric multinational military organization. This
would serve to cut out NATO and the involvement of the United States and
Eurocorps, which started as a joint German-French military force had expanded to include Belgium and Luxembourg at the time of the Berlin Plus Agreements. On the Eurocorps website it describes itself as "A Force for the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance". (4)
On May 29, 1999, France and Germany suggested putting Eurocorps as an intervention force at the EU's disposal for use in case of a crisis. The other member states accepted it and it was then officially suggested to the EU at the Cologne summit on June 3rd and 4th, 1999. This means that the European Union as a body has the right to use not only Eurocorps, but now NATO both as European Union forces, giving the EU two multinational forces to use for any military missions it chooses and for no valid reason. (5)
On the website describing Eurocorps it states that it is a force not only for the EU, but for the "Atlantic Alliance". Eurocorps has no representation by the U.S. and Canada, and the question is in what way does Eurocorps represent the U.S. and Canada in order to be able to present itself as a "force for the Atlantic Alliance"? As well, there is already a force for the Atlantic Alliance, NATO, so why is Eurocorps claiming that they are a force for the Atlantic Alliance?
It also appears that the threat of a "separate European force" distinct from NATO that was being made by the governments of Germany and France with their connection of Eurocorps to the European Union served to deceptively force the Berlin Plus Agreements in 2003.
In a "background briefing on informal NATO ministerial" on October 8, 2003, a senior U.S. administration official reported that under the Berlin Plus agreement it was understood that NATO would "support the EU as it develops it's European Security and Defense Identity. But it will support under the understanding that the European Union remains a partner. It won't seek to duplicate military headquarters. It won't seek to become a rival to NATO in a security sense. And we thought in March of this year, when we signed the Berlin Plus agreements, that we had that straight. And that when EU undertook a security mission, it would actually borrow NATO resources so that the operational planning would be done at SHAPE (NATO European Command Headquarters) and the operational commander would be the SHAPE Deputy Supreme Allied Commander. And that's the way we did it in Macedonia, when the EU went into Macedonia at the end of March.