Today (16 March 2021), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a virtual press conference to launch his Annual Report for 2020, which covers all aspects of the work of the Alliance over the past year.
In a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, NATO’s priority has been to help ensure the health crisis did not become a security crisis. At the same time as it supported the civilian response to the pandemic, NATO continued to defend all Allies against any threats.
Mr. Stoltenberg indicated that despite the economic impact of COVID-19, NATO Allies continue to invest in defence. European Allies and Canada increased their defence spending in real terms by 3.9% from 2019 to 2020. “We expect that trend to continue this year”, said the Secretary General, “because security challenges have not gone away”.
The Secretary General also presented the results of new polls on the public perception of the Alliance. These show that, in a year of upheaval, overall support for the NATO Alliance, the transatlantic bond and collective defence remains strong. If a vote was held, 62% of NATO citizens would vote for their nation to remain a member of the Alliance, and 79 % believe that cooperation between North America and Europe on security is important.
Mr. Stoltenberg stressed that “we stand at an important juncture in transatlantic relations” and set out the NATO 2030 agenda which will be at the heart of the upcoming summit of Allied leaders.