The aim of the paper is to investigate the influence of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) on the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) using a quasigeostrophic model on the sphere. A simplified forcing based on potential vorticity anomalies in the tropics is used to mimic the MJO. The idealized nature of our setup allows us to determine the distinct roles played by stationary and synoptic waves. This is done by means of several series of almost 10 000 short runs of 30 days. Ensemble averages and a streamfunction budget analysis are used to study the modifications of the flow induced by the MJO. We find that a stationary Rossby wave is excited in the tropics during MJO phase 3. The western part of the Pacific jet is displaced poleward, which modifies the transient eddy activity in that basin. These changes create a ridge south of Alaska, which favors equatorward propagation of synoptic waves and larger poleward eddy momentum fluxes from the eastern Pacific toward the Atlantic, increasing the frequency of occurrence of the positive NAO events. The situation is essentially reversed following phase 6 of the MJO and conducive to the negative phase of the NAO. For a realistic MJO forcing amplitude, we find increases in both NAO phases to be around 30%, in reasonable agreement with the observations given the model simplicity. Finally, we present a series of experiments to assess the relative importance of linear versus nonlinear effects.