“Free rider no more? Belgium and the NATO Madrid Summit”, Alexander Mattelaer (Egmont, Belgium)

When Paul-Henri Spaak signed the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949, he did so full of confidence and pride. Today, however, the Belgian position in NATO is under great pressure. Our diplomats warn that we are increasingly being regarded as stowaways because we are not fulfilling our commitments. This is problematic, because in recent years the alliance has once again developed into the central forum for guaranteeing European security. The Russian war against Ukraine shows why collective defence is a bitter necessity. The nuclear threats from Moscow also show why European defence cannot be organised without the US and the UK. When Prime Minister Alexander De Croo makes his appearance at the NATO Madrid summit next week, an exercise in diplomatic damage control will therefore be in order. How can the government bring this to a successful conclusion?

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