On 3-4 December, NATO Leaders met in London to mark 70 successful years of the Alliance, in a valuable opportunity to reaffirm British leadership. These events demonstrated a strong sense of NATO’s unity and purpose, progressed the largest reinforcement of collective defence since the end of the Cold War and agreed ways to ensure NATO will continue to meet future threats. I have placed a copy of the NATO London Declaration, capturing these commitments, in the libraries of both Houses.
In order to maintain our Alliance, defend our interests, and fulfil our commitments, NATO Allies must all pay their fair share. So I was pleased that the meeting highlighted significant progress on burden sharing, with the NATO Secretary General announcing an increase in non-US defence investment of $130bn from 2016-2020, expected to rise to $400bn by 2024. The UK remains one of nine Allies meeting its 2% defence spending commitment, including a 20% investment in new capabilities. I will continue to urge other NATO Allies to make progress in implementing our 2024 defence investment commitment.
In a session of the North Atlantic Council chaired by the Secretary General, Leaders reaffirmed NATO’s purpose and noted decisions taken to prevent conflict and preserve peace. These included addressing both state and non-state threats, a collective response to Russia’s deployment of Treaty-violating intermediate range missiles, a refreshed Counter Terrorism Action Plan, stronger policies to counter hybrid threats, and work to increase the resilience of Allies’ critical national infrastructure.
Allies also committed forces to NATO’s Readiness Initiative - ensuring that the Alliance can deploy 30 ships, 30 battalions and 30 air squadrons at 30 days’ notice. The UK has provided the single largest commitment, offering three battlegroups, two air squadrons, and six warships, including an aircraft carrier, to ensure that NATO retains its ability to deploy quickly and at strength.
Allies also discussed plans to enable this great Alliance to adapt to future challenges, and ensure that it continues to deliver peace and security for one billion people.
Allies agreed a roadmap for NATO’s response to Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (including artificial intelligence and quantum computing), initiated work to address the opportunities and challenges of China’s growing influence and declared Space an operational domain. NATO is also stepping up its role in human security, including through a new (anti) sexual exploitation and abuse policy.
Alongside the formal meetings, Her Majesty The Queen hosted the NATO Secretary General and 29 other Heads of State and Government from NATO countries and North Macedonia on 3 December. The Prime Minister undertook a range of bilateral meetings, including with the leaders of France, Germany and Turkey where they discussed the situation in Syria and agreed on the importance of humanitarian access and protection of civilians. I hosted Foreign Ministers from NATO Allies - and NATO Partners Ukraine and Georgia - on 3 December. NATO also held a major outreach event under the banner of “NATO Engages”, with a diverse, predominately young audience of more than 1000 attendees. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also hosted 100 university students for a ‘Model NATO’ exercise, and visited more than 1000 students in 15 universities across the UK in the weeks leading up to the Leaders’ Meeting.
I look forward to working with all NATO Allies and Partners in implementing the outcomes from the Leaders’ Meeting and in welcoming North Macedonia as the thirtieth member of our Alliance in the coming months. When we stand together, decide together, act together – we are stronger and safer. These steps will further strengthen the purpose and unity of an Alliance that continues to be the cornerstone of our security, and post-Brexit we will continue to reinforce its importance.