Western European Union
|Western European Union|
|Historical era||Cold War|
|23 October 1954|
|1 December 2009|
|30 June 2011|
|Today part of||
Part of a series on the
|History of the
The Western European Union (WEU) was the international organisation and military alliance that succeeded the Western Union (WU) after the 1954 amendment of the 1948 Treaty of Brussels. The WEU implemented the Modified Brussels Treaty. The WEU member states were also allies of the United States (the Western Bloc and NATO members) during the Cold War through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
At the turn of the 21st century, after the end of the Cold War, WEU tasks and institutions were gradually transferred to the European Union (EU), providing central parts of the EU's new military component, the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). This process was completed in 2009 when a solidarity clause between the member states of the European Union, which was similar (but not identical) to the WEU's mutual defence clause, entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon. The states party to the Modified Treaty of Brussels consequently decided to terminate that treaty on 31 March 2010, with all the WEU's remaining activities to be ceased within 15 months. On 30 June 2011, the WEU was officially declared defunct.
The Treaty of Brussels was signed by the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands on 17 March 1948, establishing the Western Union (WU) - an intergovernmental defence alliance that also promoted economic, cultural and social collaboration.
The need to back up the commitments of the North Atlantic Treaty with appropriate political and military structures led to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). In December 1950 the parties to the Treaty of Brussels decided to transfer the headquarters, personnel, and plans of the Western Union Military Organisation (WUDO) to NATO, whose Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) took over responsibility for the defence of Western Europe.
The establishment of NATO, along with the signing of a succession of treaties establishing the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (April 1948), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (April 1949), the Council of Europe (May 1949) and the European Coal and Steel Community (April 1951), left the Treaty of Brussels and its Western Union devoid of authority.
1954-1984: A largely dormant organisation is established
The Western Union's founding Treaty of Brussels was amended at the 1954 Paris Conference as a result of the failure of the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community to gain French ratification: The General Treaty (German: Deutschlandvertrag) of 1952 formally named the EDC as a prerequisite of the end of Allied occupation of Germany, and there was a desire to include Germany in the Western defence architecture. The Modified Brussels Treaty (MBT) transformed the Western Union into the Western European Union, at which point Italy and Germany were admitted. Although the WEU established by the Modified Brussels Treaty was significantly less powerful and ambitious than the original Western Union, German membership of the WEU was considered sufficient for the occupation of the country to end in accordance with the General Treaty.
The signatories of the Paris Agreements stated their three main objectives in the preamble to the Modified Brussels Treaty:
- To create in Western Europe a firm basis for European economic recovery;
- To afford assistance to each other in resisting any policy of aggression;
- To promote the unity and encourage the progressive integration of Europe.
The social and cultural aspects of the Treaty of Brussels were handed to the Council of Europe (CoE) to avoid duplication of responsibilities. This, in addition to the existence of NATO, marginalised the WEU, and caused it to be largely defunct.
On 1 January 1960 in accordance with the decision taken on 21 October 1959 by the Council of Western European Union and with Resolution(59)23 adopted on 16 November 1959 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the WEU activities in social and cultural areas (Social Committee, Public Health Committee, Joint Committee on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of the Disabled and Cultural Committee) were transferred to the Council of Europe which was already running programmes in these fields. The European Universities Committee (see CM(60)4; C(59)127 and CM(59)130) was transferred to the Council of Europe separately from the rest of WEU cultural activities.
1984 – 1998: Reactivation, strengthening
From the late 1970s onwards, efforts were made to add a security dimension to the European Communities' European Political Cooperation (EPC). Opposition to these efforts from Denmark, Greece and Ireland led the remaining EC countries - all WEU members - to reactivate the WEU in 1984. Prior to this point there had been minimal use of the provisions of the Modified Brussels Treaty.
In 1992, the WEU adopted the Petersberg Declaration, defining the so-called Petersberg tasks designed to cope with the possible destabilising of Eastern Europe. The WEU itself had no standing army but depended on cooperation between its members. Its tasks ranged from the most modest to the most robust, and included Humanitarian, rescue and peacekeeping tasks as well as tasks for combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking.
At the 1996 NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, it was agreed that the Western European Union would oversee the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI) within NATO structures. The ESDI was intended as a European 'pillar' within NATO, partly to allow European countries to act militarily where NATO wished not to, and partly to alleviate the United States' financial burden of maintaining military bases in Europe, which it had done since the Cold War. The Berlin agreement allowed European countries (through the WEU) to use NATO assets if it so wished.
1998 – 2009: Transfer of tasks to the EU
In 1998 the United Kingdom, which had traditionally opposed the introduction of European autonomous defence capacities, signed the Saint-Malo declaration. This marked a turning point as the declaration endorsed the creation of a European security and defense policy, including a European military force capable of autonomous action. The declaration was a response to the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, in which the EU was perceived to have failed to intervene to stop the conflict.
Concerns were voiced that an independent European security pillar could undermine NATO; In response to St. Malo, the former US-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put forth the three famous D's: no duplication of what was done effectively under NATO, no decoupling from the US and NATO, and no discrimination against non-EU members such as Turkey.
The Treaty of Amsterdam, which entered into force in 1999, transferred the WEU's Petersberg tasks to the EU, and stated that the EU's European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), replacing the WEU's ESDI, would be 'progressively framed' on the basis of these tasks.
In June 1999, the Cologne European Council decided to incorporate the role of the WEU within the EU, effectively abandoning the WEU. The Cologne Council also appointed Javier Solana as the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy to help progress both the CFSP and the ESDP. On 20 November 1999 Solana was also appointed Secretary-General of the WEU. His being head of both organisations permits him to oversee the ongoing transfer of functions from the WEU to the EU.
In 2002 the Berlin agreement from 1996 was amended with the so-called Berlin Plus agreement, which allowed the EU to also draw on some of NATO's assets in its own peacekeeping operations.
Originally, under the Amsterdam Treaty, the WEU was given an integral role in giving the EU an independent defence capability, playing a major role in the Petersberg tasks; however that situation is changing. On 13 November 2000, WEU Ministers met in Marseille and agreed to begin transferring the organisation's capabilities and functions to the European Union, under its developing Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
For example, on 1 January 2002, the WEU's Security Studies Institute and the Satellite Centre were transferred to the EU and became the European Union Institute for Security Studies and the European Union Satellite Centre. Notably, the role given to the WEU in the Amsterdam Treaty, was removed by the Nice Treaty. The Treaty of Lisbon has provisions for cooperation between the EU and both NATO (including the Berlin Plus agreement) and the WEU. However the defence commitment, of Article 4 of the Brussels Treaty, has not been subsumed. Article 42(7) of the Treaty of the European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon, could be viewed as incorporating that defence commitment into the EU framework.
The European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC), both established to function under the EU's CFSP pillar, were both replacements to the Western European Union Institute for Security Studies and the Western Union Satellite Centre which had been established to function in connection to the WEU.
With the transfer of responsibilities, the WEU's Parliamentary assembly was urged to dissolve itself, as it had a mandate to supervise WEU politics, not the EU's CSDP politics. But the Assembly saw itself as playing an important role, particularly with greater right of scrutiny, membership, experience and expertise in defence policy. Therefore, it renamed itself the "Interim European Security and Defence Assembly" and urged the European Convention to include it as a second chamber within the EU's institutional framework. Hence it argued it could effectively scrutinise the CSDP, help improve EU-NATO relations and be more suited, being composed of national parliamentarians, to the intergovernmental style of the CSDP.
However, with the European Constitution aiming to streamline and simplify the EU's foreign policy, for example combining the two main foreign policy posts, it was not seen as wise to then create a separate double legislature for the CFSP, instead, the European Parliament was granted greater scrutiny over foreign policy.
2009 – 2011: Dissolution
In 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon took over the WEU's mutual defence clause. There was much discussion about what to do with the WEU following the introduction of Lisbon, including plans to scrap it. On 30 March 2010 in a Written Ministerial Statement UK's Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant gave notice that the UK intended to withdraw from the Western European Union within a year. On 31 March 2010 the German Foreign Affairs Ministry announced Germany's intention to withdraw from the Modified Brussels Treaty. That same year, the Spanish Presidency of the WEU, on behalf of the 10 Member States of the Modified Brussels Treaty, announced the collective decision to withdraw from the Treaty and to close the WEU organisation by June 2011. On 30 June 2011 the WEU officially ceased to exist.
The WEU was headquartered in Brussels, with a staff of 65 and an annual budget of €13.4 million. It was composed of the Council of the WEU (the Council) and the Assembly of the WEU (the Assembly).
Council of Ministers
The WEU was led by a Council of Ministers, assisted by a Permanent Representatives Council on the ambassadorial level.
A Parliamentary Assembly (composed of the delegations of the member states to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) supervised the work of the Council, but it did not have any obligations on the Council. The Assembly of WEU was a consultative institution.
Western European Armaments Group
The Independent European Program Group (IEPG) was established as a forum for armaments cooperation in 1976 with the aim of creating a European Armaments Agency. Since 1993 the WEU armaments cooperation forum has been known as Western European Armaments Group (WEAG). Its membership reached 19 in 2000: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The body closed on 23 May 2005.
Western European Armaments Organisation
The Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) was intended as an Armaments Agency but operations were limited to a research cell. It provided support services in defence research and technology. It was created in 1996, and closed in August 2006. These agencies were taken over by the European Defence Agency. Other transferred bodies include the Institute for Security Studies and the Satellite Centre.
Institute for Security Studies
The Western European Union Institute for Security Studies (presently the European Union Institute for Security Studies).
The Western European Union Satellite Centre (presently the European Union Satellite Centre).
European Operational Rapid Force
On 15 May 1995, the Council of Ministers of the WEU met in Lisbon. During this meeting a declaration of the creation of the European Operational Rapid Force (Eurofor) was made by France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Eurofor became operational in June 1998 as a task force of the Western European Union.
The Western European Union had ten member countries, six associate member countries, five observer countries and seven associate partner countries. On 14 June 2001, WEU President Solana stated that there was no foreseeable reason to change the status of the non member countries in the organisation.
All member countries of the WEU were also members of both NATO and the European Union. These are the only nations that had full voting rights.
Observer countries: (Rome – 1992) Observer countries were members of the European Union, but not of NATO. 1
Rome – 1992: Associate membership was created to include the European countries that were members of NATO but not of the European Union. Associate members Poland, the Czech Republic & Hungary joined the EU in 2004.
Associate partners countries
Kirchberg – 1994: Countries that at the time were part of neither NATO nor of the EU. All of the following nations joined both NATO and the EU by 2007.
- 1987/1988: A minesweeping operation in the Strait of Hormuz, (Operation Cleansweep)
- June 1993/October 1996: A joint naval operation with NATO in the Adriatic Sea, (Operation Sharp Guard)
- June 1993/October 1996: A police and customs operation with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the Danube
- July 1994/October 1996: A police contingent in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
- May 1997/May 2001: A Multinational Advisory Police Element in Albania (MAPE)
- May 1999/November 2001: A Demining Assistance Mission to Croatia (WEUDAM)
- November 1998/July 1999: A general security surveillance mission in Kosovo
- Western Union
- Collective defence
- Collective security
- European Defence Agency
- European Union Institute for Security Studies
- History of the Common Security and Defence Policy
- Exercise Verity
- Flag of the Western European Union
- Franco-British Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty and Downing Street Declaration
- List of Secretaries General of the Western European Union
- List of military alliances
- Western Europe
- Statement of the Presidency of the Permanent Council of the WEU on behalf of the High Contracting Parties to the Modified Brussels Treaty – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, WEU 31 March 2010
- Hansard extract 18 February 1957
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- The Western European Union On CVCE website
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- "Franco–British St. Malo Declaration (4 December 1998)". Retrieved 2015-08-18.
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- Occasional Paper n.57: The democratic legitimacy of the European Security and Defence Policy European Union Institute for Security Studies, April 2005
- Rettman, Andrew (3 September 2009) European defence league poised for debate on dormant pact, EU Observer accessed 3 September 2009
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- Archived 19 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Western European Armaments Group". www.weu.int.
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- Eurofor eurofor.it
- "Shaping of a Common Security and Defence Policy - EEAS - European External Action Service - European Commission". EEAS - European External Action Service.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Western European Union.|
- WEU official web site
- Historical fonds of the Western European Union at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence
- Frozen version of the WEU Assembly's website
- History of NATO – the Atlantic Alliance - UK Government site
- WEU evolution: The presentation of the Eurocorps-Foreign Legion concept at the European Parliament in June 2003