China will become NATO’s second great enemy after Russia in the next 10 years, according to the Alliance reform report.
To counter Beijing, NATO plans to create a series of specialized structures.
The report “NATO 2030 – United for a New Era”, prepared by a group of so-called ‘wise persons’ since the beginning of this year, contains 138 reform proposals on some 60 pages.
It comes amid growing doubts about the purpose and relevance of the alliance and is to argue NATO alliance should seek a more political role as the linchpin of the West.
According to NATO diplomats, the contents of the report are a ‘riposte’ to Macron’s allegations and a response to ‘legitimate criticism’ over the alliance’s slow adaptation to the future.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is set to discuss the findings with NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday, before drawing up a policy paper to be presented to the alliance’s heads of state and government during a summit next year.
“I will then develop my proposals for the heads of state and government when they meet next year,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
“And I’m looking forward to that because NATO has proven to be a very agile alliance,” he said.
In order to improve NATO’s ability to act, the expert group will propose a series of measures at the expense of unity, which breaks with previous basic principles of the alliance.
According to leaked information, the right to veto is to be restricted and the principle of unanimity to be weakened, but not abolished, to speed up decisions and prevent “increasingly frequent blockades by individual countries”.
The idea is likely to meet with resistance from several members, but especially in Ankara, London and by Eastern Europeans, for different reasons.
The recommendations are set to include advice that “foreign ministers meet more regularly” instead of disputes being dealt with at NATO ambassadors level and that the alliance’s Secretary-General take a more prominent role in mediating disputes.
Additionally, ‘Coalitions of the Willing’ within NATO could be made possible., which would translate into the alliance being able to act in the future even if not all members approve a mission.
China on their mind
The report is also likely to express concern about disunity among alliance members in the face of new emerging threats.
“China is no longer the benign trading partner that the West had hoped for. It is the rising power of our century and NATO must adapt,” said one NATO diplomat who has seen the report, pointing to Chinese activity in the Arctic and Africa and to its heavy investments in European infrastructure.
Part of NATO’s response should be maintaining a technological advantage over China, protecting computer networks and infrastructure, the diplomat said, citing the report, which will recommend that a consultative body on policy towards Beijing is set up, although he acknowledged not all recommendations will be adopted.
The alliance could also forge closer ties with non-NATO countries such as Australia and focus more on deterrence in space, where China is developing assets, the report suggests.