Shaping our NATO: Young Voices on the Warsaw Summit 2016

Joerg Wolf │ 06. Juli 2016

Die Atlantische Initiative führt auf einen internationalen Ideenwettbewerb mit anschließendem Online Workshop für die besten Teilnehmer durch, um Memoranden für Entscheidungsträger zu erarbeiten. Wir laden alle Leserinnen und Leser ein, die bereits veröffentlichten Artikel der Studenten und Nachwuchskräfte aus allen NATO Staaten zu kommentieren und so die Debatte zu bereichern.

Our new policy workshop competition gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to reflect on the most pressing issues facing NATO today and to shape the future of the Alliance. Five winners will receive a trip to Berlin to present the collective ideas to decision-makers. is excited to announce a unique and stimulating competition that brings together a new generation from both sides of the Atlantic. We want promising students and young graduates to tell us their ideas on NATO: from increasing solidarity amongst its members, to suggesting ways that it should learn from its mistakes and adapt to change. The competition is part of’s ongoing effort to empower young people in the transatlantic debate and develop solutions to important international issues through online collaboration.

The five winners of the competition will be offered a fully-covered trip to Berlin to present their ideas to eminent policy-makers and will become honorary fellows of the Atlantic Community. Furthermore, forty of the best candidates will have the opportunity to partake in our unique online policy workshops and draft a memo that will be presented to NATO representatives and decision-makers from the foreign and defense ministries.

Our competition has two components: either a short op-ed article of less than 1000 words or a three minute long video, where you propose your ideas on one of four topic areas. Shortlisted candidates will then participate in an online workshop where you will work with peers from throughout NATO member states to develop a memorandum for policy makers. You’ll be asked both to defend your own position and arrive at a workable consensus, just like in a real policy-making process.



Category A: Preparing for NATO 2026

Today’s decision-makers are preoccupied with the many contemporary threats and might not recognize the risks, enemies, weapons, tactics or other challenges that could threaten the Alliance in ten years.

Question: What could surprise NATO in 2026? What scenario is NATO currently insufficiently addressing? What can realistically be done to prepare?

Deadline for submissions: June 19

Publication and online debate: June 20-26

Memo Workshop: June 27-July 10


Category B: NATO’s biggest mistake and lesson learned

Question: What do you consider to be NATO’s biggest mistake in the last 25 years? What lessons should be drawn and how to prevent similar mistakes in the future?

Deadline for submissions: June 26

Publication and online debate: June 27-July 3

Memo Workshop: July 4-17


Category C: Getting defense planning on track

By participating voluntarily in the NATO Defense Planning Process (NDPP), Allies can harmonize their national defense plans with those of NATO to identify and develop the capabilities needed for the full range of NATO missions. This coordination is particularly important given the limited defense budgets after nearly a decade of financial and economic crises in Europe. Even an increase in defense spending might not strengthen NATO if the national defense planning is not coordinated and leads only to more duplication but does not address shortcomings. Yet the NDPP has not realized its full potential due to the many different national preferences and some concerns of compromising sovereignty. Smart Defence and the Framework Nation Concept are two initiatives to enable NATO members to pool, share, develop, acquire, operate and maintain military capabilities in a cooperative way to avoid duplications and make defense budgets more efficient.

Question: How can some NATO member countries be encouraged to participate more actively in the NATO Defense Planning Process? How could NATO Members coordinate better to generate the modern defense capabilities that the Alliance as a whole needs? What are the best practices that could serve as role models in a renewed culture of cooperation?

Deadline for submissions: July 3

Publication and online debate: July 4-10

Memo Workshop: July 11-24


Category D: Increasing solidarity in the face of divergent threat perception

Unity is NATO’s key strength; however, member states often perceive the severity of various security risks and threats differently. For instance, NATO’s eastern members such as Poland and the Baltic states have been advocating for NATO bases in their countries to strengthen collective defense in light of a resurgent Russia, while the Southern member countries see a bigger threat in the growing instability in North Africa and the Middle East. Geographic position, lessons from history, and economic interdependence are just a few examples of factors that shape a nation’s perceptions on defense strategy and divide opinion on NATO policy. Therefore, it is important that NATO mitigates these differences and provides a unified strategy that all member countries and their publics can fully support.

Question: How can NATO improve cohesion, and strengthen consensus on how to deal with the many different threats? What practical steps can be taken to increase empathy and solidarity between the publics in the NATO Members countries?

Deadline for submissions: July 10

Publication and online debate: July 11-17

Memo Workshop: July 18-31


The competition has been made possible by generous contributions from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation.

NATO Konrad Adenauer Foundation Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation

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Außenpolitik für alle!

Die Atlantische Initiative will einen Beitrag zur Stärkung der außenpolitischen Kultur in Deutschland leisten. Mitgestaltung außenpolitischer Prozesse muss für alle möglich sein. Dafür ist es wichtig, alle Teilbereiche der Gesellschaft besser zu vernetzen. Besonders liegt uns die Förderung von Partizipationsmöglichkeiten für die junge Generation am Herzen. Um unser Motto mit Leben zu füllen, haben wir eine Reihe von Projekten entwickelt. Wir freuen uns auf Ihre Beteiligung.