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The NATO Pipeline System: a forgotten defence asset

  • 27 Apr. 2020
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  • Last updated: 27 Apr. 2020 17:00

NDC Policy Brief 8-20


Over the last decade, energy security has become a permanent element of NATO’s strategic thinking, integrated into numerous NATO policies and activities.1In fact, restoring the prominence of energy security within the Alliance was not easy, especially as this policy was considered primarily a question of national security in the post-Cold War era. It was only at the 2008 Bucharest Summit that NATO was given a dedicated, yet limited, mandate to work in this field. The mandate – based on a set of principles and guidelines – included information and intelligence sharing, cooperation on consequence management, and support for the protection of critical energy infrastructure.

In NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept, Allies emphasized that they “will ensure that NATO has the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against any threat to the safety and security of our populations. Therefore, [they] will develop the capacity to contribute to energy security, including protection of critical energy infrastructure and transit areas and lines, cooperation with partners, and consultations among Allies on the basis of strategic assessments and contingency planning”.2 For the first time, energy security was clearly linked to NATO’s core business of deterrence and defence.


* (back) Political Adviser/Head, Political Section, Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Poland to NATO.
1 (back) The International Energy Agency defines energy security as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price. NATO has not agreed its own definition, as for many years Allies have struggled to clearly define NATO’s role in energy security. Hence, for the purpose of this paper energy security will be defined as a “stable and reliable energy supply, the diversification of routes, suppliers and energy resources, and the interconnectivity of energy networks are of critical importance and increase resilience against political and economic pressure” (NATO Brussels Summit Declaration, 2018, para.78).
2 (back) NATO’s Strategic Concept, 2010, para.19.

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