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EU-NATO Cooperation: A Case of Institutional Fatigue?

Simon Smith

Since 1999, The EU and NATO have attempted to co-operate on various issues and in a range of different types of operations. Co-operation between the two organizations is seen in both the academic literature and by policy-makers as sub-optimal in light of the common challenges which face both institutions. The Berlin Plus arrangement, finalised in 2003, is the only structured and institutionalized form of cooperation between the EU and NATO. This arrangement has been successful in enabling structured cooperation in two EU-led missions to date: the EU mission in Bosnia and the EU mission in Macedonia. However, further attempts at co-operation have been thwarted due to political controversy and operational deficiency. The EU and NATO have thus had to rely on informal procedures and have been preoccupied in missions with 'de-conflicting' competing institutional mandates and prerogatives. In this light, a number of questions arise: (1) Why was Berlin Plus designed in its current form as the only mechanism of EU-NATO cooperation? (2) For what reasons and in what forms does EU-NATO cooperation occur outside the Berlin Plus format? (3) Why does Berlin Plus persist when it is widely regarded as problematic? This paper will tackle these relevant and timely questions.

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