Defence ministers approve "simpler," more affordable NATO
NATO defence ministers on Wednesday gave a green light to reforms to streamline the military alliance's structure, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, dpa reported.
He did not offer any details in a statement issued late Wednesday, but said the approved changes would make NATO "leaner, more flexible and better able to deal with future challenges."
Allies had agreed last autumn that the number of NATO headquarters should be cut from 11 to seven, with its permanent staff to be slashed from some 13,000 to below 9,000.
Diplomats said NATO agencies are also to be reduced from 13 to three, with locations only in Luxembourg and Brussels. Defense ministers had been expected on Wednesday to decide where exactly the axe should fall.
The decision can only be taken by unanimity. A plan formulated by Rasmussen had initially run into opposition from Portugal and Spain, as they each stood to lose from the cuts. A command centre in Heidelberg, Germany, is also expected to be shuttered.
"Some headquarters will close. Others will move or change their role," Rasmussen noted. "Our agencies will become simpler in structure, while staying effective in their work."
NATO's command structure would also become "more efficient, more deployable and more compact," he said.
Spanish Defence Minister Carme Chacon had earlier in the day argued for a military alliance that is "economically viable."
"We need a more austere NATO in these economic times that are so difficult for all," she said.
Rasmussen said the approved reforms "will make NATO more affordable - offering even better value for our allies' money."