Remarks by President Charles Michel before the NATO summit in Madrid

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

This summit is an important meeting because it’s the occasion to decide on membership for Finland and for Sweden, and the EU fully supports this important decision. It’s also important because it is the occasion to re-affirm our very firm and concrete support for Ukraine. We are all together, the EU together with NATO, we share the same values, we share the same principles. This is why today, in the following hours, we will work with all our colleagues in order to prepare the strengthening of this partnership – the EU, NATO – all together for more safety, for more security, and also in order to promote and defend our fundamental common values and principles.

It is the responsibility of the NATO authorities to decide how they organise the format of the meeting. In my capacity as President of the European Council, I just want to say that it’s extremely important for us to support the decision taken by Finland and Sweden, with a lot of support from the citizens of those countries, to apply to become members of NATO because it will strengthen security and safety across the European continent, and that’s why I welcome the positive signal that was sent yesterday.

We’ve decided to increase, by EUR 200 billion in the following years, our defence spending. We want to spend more, but this is not enough. We also want to reduce the level of fragmentation in order to be more efficient and have more capabilities. I am absolutely convinced that a stronger EU pillar without NATO will make NATO stronger, safer, and will also reinforce the transatlantic alliance. For me, this is a top priority.

The cooperation between NATO and the EU is not new. We have the same values and principles, and we have the same common goals and the same common purposes. But it’s true that because of the war, this is very visible – the way we are working together, the way we are cooperating. I will give you one concrete example. Only a few hours after the start of the war, the EU – through the leaders, the 27 heads of state and government – took a historic decision to mobilise European money to provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine, and only a few hours later, the first lethal military equipment was deployed in Ukraine. It means that we spoke for many years about European defence but certainly, in recent months, we have made a lot of progress on the topic, which is good for the EU and which is also good for the cooperation with NATO.

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