Tue, Oct 22, 2019

More in the Med: How NATO Can Refocus its Efforts in the South and Italy Can Lead the Charge

Report by Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and Lauren Speranza

Related Experts: Alexander Vershbow, Lauren Speranza,

Defense Policy Europe & Eurasia Italy NATO Security & Defense Southern & Southeastern Europe

As NATO commemorates its seventieth anniversary in 2019, the Alliance has made considerable progress in restoring deterrence in the east against an aggressive, revanchist Russia. But, NATO continues to fall short in its “southern strategy.” This is not only a missed opportunity to mitigate the real, and growing, threats and challenges along NATO’s Mediterranean and Black Sea frontiers; the lack of a more effective southern strategy also puts at risk the solidarity and cohesion that are essential to transatlantic security.

It is no longer enough for the Alliance to focus on dialogue, security cooperation, and projecting stability alone in the south. In an era of intensifying great power competition, NATO’s defense, deterrence, and containment mission in the region is becoming increasingly urgent and important. NATO’s approach needs to adapt to reflect these new realities.

Going forward, NATO needs a more strategic vision of what it wants to accomplish in the Mediterranean and its broader southern neighborhood. In More in the Med, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and Lauren Speranza outline three major pillars around which NATO can refocus its efforts in the south:

  • revamping the projecting-stability agenda to be more effective;
  • strengthening the defense-and-deterrence pillar of NATO’s southern strategy; and
  • promoting regional leadership for the south within NATO.

The report’s recommendations under these pillars seek to bring together disparate national and multinational efforts into a more detailed plan of action, while building political will, encouraging additional resource contributions, and promoting regional leadership.