NATO and the EU have signed a joint declaration affirming their mutual desire to strengthen their cooperation to confront the "security threats and challenges" posed by China and Russia, AFP and Belga News Agency have reported.
"This is a key juncture for Euro-Atlantic security and stability, more than ever demonstrating the importance of the transatlantic bond, calling for closer EU-NATO cooperation," said the statement, which was seen by AFP and is set to be formally published and signed by NATO and the EU on Tuesday.
The joint declaration — the first between the NATO and the EU since 2018 — also highlighted "the value of a stronger and more capable European defence that contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to, and interoperable with, NATO."
It added: "As the security threats and challenges we are confronted with are evolving in scope and magnitude, we will take our partnership to the next level."
In addition to Russia, the declaration also explicitly named "China's growing assertiveness and policies" as "challenges" that both NATO and the EU "need to address".
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The joint declaration arguably marks merely a formal recognition of ties that have long been close and which, if anything, have become even closer ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Moreover, many European countries — including, most notably, Germany — have massively increased their defence spending since last February, while the US, by far NATO's most powerful member, has increased its troop presence in Europe from 60,000 to 100,000.