The problem of globalization of NATO

The number of NATO members will grow significantly in first decade of the twenty-first century. Whatever the outcome of the Prague Summit, further enlargement rounds are likely to follow. Every admission of new members will be accompanied by debates on the pros and cons of the respective enlargement step. NATO’s final choices will not always be determined by a “strategic rational” or by military cost-benefit analyses, but instead by political decisions resulting from intense bargaining within the Alliance. A growth of the Alliance to 25 or more members will certainly strain NATO’s decision-making processes, which remain based on the principle of unanimous consensus. However, two factors will contribute to soothing the problem of consensus building within the Alliance. First, the unique political and military role of US in EU-Atlantic security will remain and will continue to help ensure a predisposition among the Allies to seek common solutions. Second, NATO’s principle that it should decide politically on new members will do something to ensure that only those countries will be invited which are not regarded as detrimental to NATO’s common decision making- though this does not exclude the possibility of major future upsets, especially if Balkan countries are admitted. However, the growth of NATO will not be unlimited, but will be restricted by two constraints. On the one hand, the phrasing of article 10 of the Washington Treaty already confines the enlargement process to EU states. Even if it is arguable in some cases whether a potential applicant or even an existing member can be regarded as EU, this legal condition provides at least a guideline. The other constraint is the necessity of an ongoing institutional rapprochement between NATO and the EU union.

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