Italy is historically a key actor in the main international organizations that contribute toward international peace and stability. As far as defense is concerned, Italy’s involvement includes a number of activities, initiatives and missions that prove the great professionalism of our Armed Forces, of whom we are really proud.
Italy’s strong European and Euro-Atlantic vocation, which is a foreign policy priority, clearly affects the country’s military policy.
Italy considers the role of NATO as crucial in current and future scenarios for international security, and we intend to contribute responsibly and in keeping with our role as the second contributor to allied operations and the fifth contributor to the NATO budget.
The NATO summit of heads of state and government on July 11-12 this year was held in a particularly delicate moment, in the midst of a phase of deep transformation for the alliance. But shared and effective solutions were found, together with the further development of NATO’s adaptation process.
In particular, there was the organization of alliance activities in the southern sector — a new plan for the south, which will guide the implementation of allied efforts in an area that is extremely interesting for Italy, starting with the achievement of full operating capacity for the Naples regional hub.
In this framework, a particularly important theme is burden sharing. Italy has strongly claimed and continues to claim the need for a shared and overall view of objectives of the “pledge,” in which all three of its elements — cash, capabilities and contributions — are considered of equal value and dignity.
In other words, the actual national pledge to share the burdens for common security with allies necessarily results from the harmonious reading of all three parameters.
The Italian Armed Forces are currently participating in nine NATO missions, with an authorized highest presence of 2,300 units, thus guaranteeing the second-largest contingent after the U.S. in alliance operations. Furthermore, Italy continues to take on important command roles, such as in Kosovo (with KFOR command) and Afghanistan (where Italy is responsible for the western sector).
In light of this important contribution to operations and missions, Italy has asked that such burdens be enhanced in line with the other parameters. Moreover, we strongly believe that the 2 percent parameter should include investments aimed at assuring national resilience, meaning those dealing with cyber and energy security. This proposal has been encouraged by many other countries of the alliance.
To that end, we will continue to advocate for spending on space, cyberspace and the protection of civil infrastructure to be included in collective security budget calculations.
We are also supporting the possibility that the 2 percent of gross domestic product can also include expenses that a defense ministry has contributed to European Union initiatives, such as the European Defence Industrial Development Programme.
As for the European Union, I will personally be engaged in pursuing increased integration within the security and defense sectors of the union by searching for more structured and deeper cooperation — initially with our most important partners.
The long-term objective will be to pursue greater EU strategic autonomy, both in the fields of technology and industry — and in terms of operational interventions — considering its renewed ambition as a “global security provider.”
We wish, therefore, to foster a European strategy that, starting from the union’s shared founding principles, will consider common strategic objectives and interests, and encourage a more mature awareness of the added value that the EU can offer in the international area, through policies of promotion, peacekeeping and prevention, rather than only crisis reaction.
Elisabetta Trenta is Italy’s defense minister.