Mapping discourses on NATO’s future

Since NATO celebrated its 70th birthday in 2019, discussions about the future of the alliance have intensified in its member states. Underlying this debate was not only the sharp criticism of the alliance articulated by then-US president Donald Trump. French president Emmanuel Macron’s diagnosis of NATO’s “brain death” is also indicative of deep fissures, such as the increasingly divisive role played by Turkey in the Atlantic alliance.

The inauguration of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, marks a potentially important turning point in the debate. On the one hand, observers expect the US to adopt a more positive stance toward multilateralism and alliances, opening a window of opportunity for the further development of NATO; on the other, important problems and challenges remain. One key issue is Biden’s project of a Global Summit for Democracy, which could push NATO – as an alliance of democracies – toward an increasingly global role.

Against this background, and based on the assumption that the alliance will remain the central frame of reference for the joint organization of military security and defence, the PRIF study undertakes a comprehensive mapping of the key strands of discussion and diverging political positions on these issues taken within NATO member states.