Biden heads to NATO for summit expected to return to pre-Trump era predictability
STUTTGART, Germany — President Joe Biden and other heads of state next week will agree on a revamped NATO strategy that accounts for China’s ambitions and the implications of climate change, the alliance’s top official said Friday ahead of a summit widely expected to lack the tumult of the Trump era.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said allies will “open a new chapter” Monday when they agree to NATO’s 2030 plan, which also calls for emphasis on cyber and space defenses as well as more technology investments.
“This high level of ambition has to be properly resourced and funded,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
Leading up to the summit, Stoltenberg also has talked about changing how NATO operations are funded as part of his 2030 proposal, advocating the alliance to allow members to tap into NATO’s shared defense budget to subsidize some missions. Currently, the nation that deploys troops pays the bill, which Stoltenberg has in the past described as unfair.
On Friday, Stoltenberg did not make clear whether the idea allowing nations to use common funds for operations will make it into the final 2030 plan. He did, however, say common funding was a “force multiplier” and that he expected members to “recognize the importance of spending together.”
Beyond updating strategies and plans, Monday’s summit also is expected to serve as a chance for NATO to showcase unity among members in a way that was challenged during former President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Traditionally, NATO summits have been bland, well-rehearsed affairs, with few surprises and disputes kept behind closed doors. That changed with Trump, who in his first NATO summit in 2017, publicly blasted allies for insufficient defense spending and questioned the relevance of a security pact that he regarded as a drain on American resources.
Biden’s inaugural visit to NATO headquarters as president is anticipated to be bring a major shift in tone from Trump, whose appearances in Brussels kept many allies on edge.
Biden “is a strong supporter of NATO, the trans-Atlantic bond, and all allies welcome this very clear message,” Stoltenberg said. “We will demonstrate that commitment to our alliance, not only in words but also in deeds.”
Meanwhile, Stoltenberg said the Trump era demonstrated NATO’s resilience and that alliance unity “goes beyond individual political leaders.”
“We have weathered different political winds … This alliance has proven extremely robust,” he said.