Everything indicates that Finland’s NATO entry process could break records. Although the secretary general of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, did not want to talk about specific deadlines, he assured that it will be “smooth and fast”.
Since 1949, the Alliance has lived eight rounds of Enlargement that have led to the 12 founding members becoming 30 countries. The last two to join the Military Alliance have been Montenegro in June 2017 and North Macedonia in March 2020. Finland is expected to formalize its application for entry in the coming days and that it will be accompanied by the same step by Sweden. After the invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have ended up turning a blind eye to the wolf and want to be under the umbrella of the so-called article 5 of the Alliance, which ensures that an attack on one of its members is an attack on all of them. One for all and all for one.
Once the country has formalized its request for entry, Article 10 of the Treaty, which regulates the organization’s “open door” policy, ensures that it must be the Alliance by consensus who decides to take the first step and proceed to an “invitation”. After this procedure, the accession negotiations begin, which take place at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels. During these sessions, the NATO teams and the country concerned must ensure that the candidate meets the political and military requirements, which also includes technical questions such as the country’s contribution to the common NATO budget taking into account the size of your economy. In addition, the countries that want to be part of the military organization must know how to protect the Alliance’s classified information and have their security and intelligence services prepared.
If the candidates do not meet any of the requirements, a reform schedule is drawn up, which in some cases can be completed after the country joins the organization. In the second step of the process, the candidate country sends a letter addressed to the secretary general in which they accept these requirements and the reforms that he must implement. So NATO prepares the accession protocols to the Washington Treaty for each candidate country. In the case of Finland and Sweden, this process is expected to last days since the two countries meet these requirements with ease. The Alliance’s response may come at the summit in Madrid on June 29 and 30 or even earlier. The two Nordic countries, members of the EU, have cooperated with NATO since 1994 within the Partnership for Peace program and also participate in joint maneuvers and in some operations such as Afghanistan and the Balkans. As Stoltenberg has pointed out, “Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the European Union and a major contributor to Euro-Atlantic security.”
But the procedures do not end here. Then it must be each country of the Alliance that completes the ratification process according to its legal system. In the case of the United Kingdom, the vote of the House of Commons is not required, but EThe US requires two-thirds approval in the Senate. There are no clear deadlines stipulated for this phase, which can last from four months to a year.
Once all the members of the Alliance have given their corresponding green light, they must notify the US, the depository country of the Washington Treaty. It is then when the secretary general invites the new countries to access the military organization and be protected under his umbrella. According to Stoltenberg, the Nordic country’s entry into the organization “will strengthen both NATO and Finland’s security” and will show that “NATO’s door is open.”
Bearing in mind that Finland’s decision has already raised the ire of Russia, one of the questions is what can happen to the candidate countries while the ratification process is completed in the 30 member countries. NATO has already committed itself in these weeks to protecting the two Nordic countries and an increase in military presence is expected. The United Kingdom has also signaled this week that it will come to the rescue of Finland and Sweden in the face of a possible attack by Vladimir Putin.