Session Summary:  Strategic Foresight for Resilience: the EU and NATO in a Post-Pandemic World

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, European  Commission  

Mircea Geoană, Deputy Secretary-General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (virtually) 

Led by: Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Brussels

 

Building and strengthening resilience has been at the top of the EU’s and NATO’s agenda. This is not going to change. Since 2016 the indicators, strengths and weaknesses of resilience have been assessed. Yet, the pandemics showed how vulnerable our life is and how the easily successful operation, such as the internal market, can be disrupted. Mr Šefčovič reminded us that “there was writing on the wall that something like this will happen, we considered it as an inconvenient truth.” Despite the crucial aspect is societal resilience, as emphasized by Mr Geoană, at the moment the debate has shifted to establish a new resilience commitment, where resilience is understood in broader terms including climate change, critical infrastructure, supply chains, telecommunication or screening the FDI. That, however, does not leave the hard security issues unaddressed. NATO has been working on tackling the hybrid threats, cybersecurity threats, China or Russia. Yet, there are other important recognized areas including outer space and competition for raw materials important for microchips production.  

We need to be prepared for the next black swan. Although the best black swans are those which never materialized, the EU and NATO are working with several scenarios. That is also the reason for the EU's strategic autonomy, a strategic compass to be converging and complementary with NATO's Strategic Concept.  

The EU-NATO relations has been marked by continuous debate about who does what. Here, Mr Šefčovič refers to the very difficult role of the international institutions in resilience, where a crucial role is played by national governments.  “We can never do enough, but we have to send the same message”, he underlines.  Mr Šefčovič and Mr Geoană agreed that both the EU and NATO need to stand up for democracy. Democracy is the stepping stone of our future and it is under pressure from authoritarian regimes. Mr Geoană calls that “we have to engage and fight and win this fight. We don't have the luxury to ignore the signs of things that are coming.”