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The NATO Parliamentary Assembly

Since being formed in 1955, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has provided a forum for parliamentarians from the NATO Member States to promote debate on key security challenges, facilitate mutual understanding and support national parliamentary oversight of defence matters. The Assembly also helps to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and provides many opportunities for North American and European parliamentarians to discuss their concerns, interests and differences.

The Assembly is institutionally separate from NATO, but provides a link between NATO and the parliaments of NATO Member States.


The NATO Parliamentary Assembly consists of 274 delegates from the 31 NATO Member States. Each delegation is based on the country’s size. Delegates from associate countries and parliamentary observer delegations take part in Assembly activities and bring the total number of delegates to approximately 360.

Rt Hon Alec Shelbrooke MP has led the 18-strong UK delegation since 2020. The delegation is cross-party and filled with members from both Houses of Parliament, with membership reflecting the political party balance in the House of Commons at the time of the most recent General Election.

Seven UK delegates have served as President since the organisation was founded.

Committee work

Much of the Assembly’s work is carried out by its five committees, whose remit is to examine the major security and policy challenges confronting the Alliance. These committees produce reports on critical issues affecting the Alliance and, to inform their discussions, receive briefings from experts and senior officials from government and international organisations, as well as attending fact-finding missions.

The Assembly meets as a whole twice a year: a Spring Session and an Annual Session in the autumn.

Commons Library paper The NATO Parliamentary Assembly and UK delegations (CBP 8951) provides further information.

NATO Summit, Vilnius, 11 to 12 July 2023

The next Heads of State and Government summit is in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 11 to 12 July 2023.

The focus of the summit will continue to be Ukraine and the Alliance’s response to the ongoing conflict. This will likely include a further expansion of NATO’s “deterrence and defence” aspects. Defence Ministers have already agreed to new regional plans, to be formally adopted at the Summit, with plans to have over 300,000 troops on high readiness across the Alliance. A discussion of NATO’s nuclear posture is also likely given Russia’s recent decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.

Long term support to Ukraine will also be a priority. Allies are expected to agree a multi-year package of assistance to Ukraine, which builds upon the Comprehensive Assistance Package that was first agreed in 2014 and strengthened at the 2022 Madrid Summit.

Defence Ministers have also agreed a new rotational model for air and missile defence, which the Secretary General said would mean NATO can “transition smoothly from air policing to air defence”. Ministers also agreed to ramp up production, including of “battle-decisive” ammunition. The Secretary General also said he expects NATO to “make a more ambitious commitment to defence investment… with 2% of GDP for defence as a floor, not a ceiling.”

At its 2022 Summit in Madrid, the Alliance invited Finland and Sweden to join. Finland joined in April 2023; Sweden’s membership remains held up by Turkey and Hungary and it is unclear whether either country will complete the process in time for Sweden to join before Vilnius.

Some Allies have also been pushing for concrete steps towards allowing Ukraine to join. NATO said in 2008 that “Ukraine will become a member” but it is not clear how the Alliance will progress Ukraine’s application while Ukraine remains in a state of conflict. The Secretary General says NATO is working to establish a new NATO-Ukraine Council in time for Vilnius, so as to have the Council’s first meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy.

Jens Stoltenberg also looks likely to remain Secretary General for a further year. He was meant to step down in 2022 but stayed on because of the conflict in Ukraine. A lack of consensus on who might replace him – with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace discussed as a potential candidate – means it looks like he will remain with NATO for a further year.

The US will hold the summit in 2024 in Washington, to mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of its founding Washington Treaty.

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