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The Western European Union (W.E.U.)


History The birth of the Western European Union began some
28 years ago on May 6th 1955. However, this alliance was
formed from the original Treaty of Dunkirk. The Treaty of
Dunkirk was an Anglo-French alliance which was signed on
March 4th 1947, when the two signatories agreed to give
mutual support to each other should the event of renewed
German aggression show it's face again. It was also to
agree on a common action should either signatory be
prejudiced by any failure of Germany to fulfil it's
economic obligations which were enforced upon her by the
allies at the end of WWII. The Treaty of Dunkirk was
enhanced within only 12 months with the signing of The
Brussels Treaty. This was a "Treaty of Economic, Social and
Cultural Co-operation and Collective Self Defence" signed
on March 17th 1948 by the countries of Belgium, France,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and was
implemented by the U.K. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin.
This new and enhanced Treaty of Dunkirk was to be given the
name of the Brussels Treaty Organisation (B.T.O.). Among
the aims of the treaty were the "strengthening of economic,
social and cultural ties between the signatories, the
co-ordination of efforts to create a firm basis for
European economic recovery, and mutual assistance in
maintaining international peace and security". Of the
Brussels treaty two articles in particular need mentioning.
Article 4 of treaty provided for " mutual assistance in
maintaining international peace and security". While
article 7 created a Consultative Council to discuss matters
covered by the treaty.
Over the coming years more talks were held on the formation
of a European Defence Council, however these talks broke
down and proved fruitless. A new set of talks were
scheduled in the summer of 1954 to extend and amend the
Brussels Treaty and proved much more successful, with the
conclusion of the talks in London between September 28th
and October 3rd. The "Paris Agreements" were signed in
Paris on October 23rd 1954 by the nine conference powers
which included representatives from Belgium, Canada,
France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Although some concern may be expressed at the inclusion of
Germany as one of the representative states Protocol 1 of
the Paris Agreement will explain this. Protocol I Amended
the Brussels treaty of 1948 to permit the entry of the
Federal Republic of Germany and Italy into the Treaty
Organisation. The assistance in case of attack was extended
to the two new entrants. The Consultative Council set up
under the original treaty was given powers of decision and
renamed the Council of Western European Union. On May 6th
1955 the Paris Agreements came into force and the expanded
Brussels Treaty Organisation became the Western European
Union. There are however three other protocols worth
mentioning that were agreed upon within the Paris
Protocol II Laid down the maximum strength of land and air
forces to be maintained in Europe at the disposal of
Supreme Allied Commander of NATO by each of the member
countries of the WEU in peace time. The contribution of
naval forces to NATO by each of the WEU countries would be
determined annually. Regular inspections would be held by
the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, to ensure that the
limits were observed. A special article recapitulated an
undertaking by Britain not to withdraw or diminish her
forces in Europe against the wishes of the majority of her
partners. In 1957 Britain was given permission, by the WEU
to withdraw some of her forces from the Federal Republic of
Germany. Protocol III Embodied resolutions on the control
of armaments on the European mainland. The Federal Republic
of Germany was forbidden to manufacture atomic, biological
or chemical weapons, and stocks of such weapons in other
countries of continental Europe were to be strictly
controlled. In addition, Germany undertook not to
manufacture long-range and guided missiles, influence
mines, warships and strategic bombers unless the competent
NATO Supreme Commander should recommend any change in the
ruling. Protocol IV Set up an agency for the Control of
Armaments and defined its functions, these being mainly to
enforce the provision of Protocol III. The German Build Up
Within a short period of time due to the build up of the
Warsaw pact it was felt that the Federal Republic of
Germany would be unable to defend itself against possible
aggression from the Russian dominated treaty, and that a
number of arrangements would have to be made with regards
to the increase in size of its forces. This would, it was
believed enhance the FRG right to self defence against
aggression, enhance the military strength of the WEU and at
the same time strengthen the NATO first line of defence
against the Warsaw Pact Forces. To enable this to happen a
number of new amendments had to be made to Protocol III of
the revised Brussels Treaty. These were made over a number
of years. The first decision was made on April 23 1958 when
West Germany requested to be allowed the manufacture of
short range, anti-tank, guided missiles with only
conventional warheads. On October 21st 1959 the Council of
the WEU agreed to remove the restriction on the
construction of ground-to-air and air-to-air anti-aircraft
missiles by West Germany. Between May 1961 and October 1963
the Council of the WEU approved a number of revisions to
the permitted limit on West German naval vessels and their
construction. On 24th May 1961 the Council of the WEU
raised the tonnage limit for eight West German destroyers
to 6,000 tons, which was double the existing general limit,
to build fleet auxiliary vessels of up to 6,000 tons and to
manufacture influence mines for port protection. On October
19th 1962 the WEU agreed to increase from 350 to 450 tons
the limit for West German submarines "to fulfil NATO
requirements". Within a year on October 9th 1963 the
Council of the WEU agreed to raise the tonnage limit for
West German submarines from the 450 tons agreed only a year
earlier up to 1,000 tons. These new submarines were also
allowed to be built in West Germany.
From 1963 up until 1980 further amendments were made to the
original agreements which would allow the previous limits
to increase from 3,000 tons for combat vessels except eight
destroyers of up to 6,000 tons and one training ship of up
to 5,000 tons. 6,000 tons for auxiliary vessels and 1,800
tons for submarines
The WEU and NATO The French Stance Over the past few years
and in particular the last twelve months there have been
differentiating ideas on the role and make-up of the WEU.
The French would prefer to see it as a military extension
of the EC and would work outside the NATO structure. They
see NATO as being institutionalised with U.S. leadership
and with the French playing only a minor role within NATO
itself, it sees the rest of Europe constantly bowing to
American wishes. Roland Dumas the French foreign minister
stated in October 1991 that a European defence identity
meant "the defence of Europe by Europeans". The French went
some way to achieving this with the formation of the new
Euro-Corps, a Franco-German brigade of some 35,000 troops,
and soon offered membership to any other EC country. Indeed
interest was expressed by both Belgium and Spain, however
both eventually declined. The Belgian line was that "it did
not want to be the only other member of the new
Franco-German force". The Spanish declined after being won
over by the British argument that European defence should
be based upon the nine nation WEU. The Franco- German
brigade seems to be largely cosmetic as without the
communication, logistical and intelligence gathering
capabilities of the Americans it poses no substantial real
alternative to the more than adequate NATO alternative. The
appointing of Britain by NATO not only to head but also to
commit substantial forces to the new Rapid Reaction Corps
at the end of last year made the French furious. They saw
this as an Anglo-Saxon dominance at a time when President
Mitterrand was "weighing wider French participation in the
alliance". However French officials had also hinted that
French troops even when co-operating with German forces
would not move in any way closer to NATO's military system.
President Francois Mitterrand has hinted that the French
might eventually put its nuclear forces at the services of
a United Europe but this would require co-ordination with
Great Britain, Europe's only other nuclear power. The
bottom line from the French appears to be that the
Franco-German force will compliment and not undermine both
NATO and the Western European Union and that the sooner
American forces are out of Europe the better!
The German Stance The German stance has been somewhat of a
balancing act. It feels that it is demonstrating to other
European countries that by joining with France in a
Franco-German brigade that it is at the heart of Europe and
being European. The Germans are also aware that they should
not show negative or give the wrong signals to the
Americans as the Americans have played a great part in
keeping the peace within Europe for a number of decades.
They did not wish to be forced into a trade war between
Europe and their Atlantic partners which could damage an
already over stretched German economy. The Germans were
also disappointed with the appointment of Great Britain to
head NATO's Rapid Reaction Corps, however the rumblings of
discontent where somewhat quieter than the French had made.
There were a number of problems with the German commitment
to the EFA (European Fighter Aircraft) project, and at one
stage the German Defence secretary Volker Ruhe announced
that they would be withdrawing from the project. This
decision was reversed a number of weeks later by Chancellor
Kohl for which the reasons will be mentioned later. The
biggest worry facing the German question is that they no
longer see any threat from the Warsaw pact and therefore
see no reason to carry on spending any where near the kind
of money that it had been spending on defence prior to it's
demise. With the reunification of the Germany's it would
prove difficult to persuade a German population that
defence spending should be as compelling as rebuilding the
East German economy or raising the standards of living for
the Eastern half of Germany. German troops are still
legally bound not to be deployed outside Germany, although
during Operation Restore Hope (aid to the Kurdish refugees
on the Turkish-Iraqi border) four German helicopters were
deployed, but these were for humanitarian reasons and not
for aggressive reasons. The one question that still remains
is that if the Franco-German brigade were to be used as a
complement to NATO and the WEU, could at some stage German
troops be deployed outside Germany to fight in a conflict
which may see NATO or the WEU involved. The American Stance
At first the Americans viewed all the happenings in Europe
as small and superfluous, recognising the European habit to
agree on anything to be a long drawn out affair which
normally would end in deadlock. However with the
application made by Great Britain to join the EC in 1969
the Americans began to pay greater interest in Europe.
Great Britain were granted membership into the EC on 1st
January 1973, and the U.S. saw this as a stronger and more
independent Europe. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
called this "The Year of Europe" but made a provocative
contrast between the global policies of the U.S. and
Europe's "regional role". A revised structure for
transatlantic consultation was agreed upon in June 1974 in
the NATO Ottawa Declaration. Towards the end of the
seventies there were a number of disagreements between
regional and global policies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Britain, France and West Germany supported the
strengthening of the Western European Union with twice
yearly ministerial meetings, and when in 1987 the WEU
membership expanded to nine with the inclusion of Spain and
Portugal due to their membership in the EC, this lead to
Washington issuing a warning that "Atlantic co-operation
must take priority over developments among West Europeans
In 1991 a U.S. call for a stronger Western European role
within the alliance was matched with a warning about the
adverse impact of moves towards a European discussion on
America's role within Europe. Visits to Europe by U.S.
officials cautioned European governments against any
practical steps towards a separate European Defence
Identity. This did however embarrass some as an
intervention in preempting any European debate on this
matter. The Time magazine of March last year reported on a
leaked Defence Department draft called "The Lone
Superpower", in which the Defence Establishment proposed to
make the U.S. the sole global policeman. The 46 page
document was leaked by a Defence Department dissident and
according to the classified draft a Pentagon planning
calculus said that "Europe and Japan should be pre-empted
from challenging U.S. dominance". The leaking of this
document caused great embarrassment and was swiftly denied.
In the same month the U.S. backed a proposal to turn NATO
into a security umbrella for all of Europe. This move
reflected continued U.S. opposition to the Franco-German
special relationship to give Federal Europe real authority.
In 1991 Washington warned Brussels that NATO and not the
WEU should remain as Western Europe's principal security
force, this was however largely ignored in the EC when the
Maastricht Treaty requested the gradual increase and
beefing up of the WEU. The Americans seem happy to enhance
the WEU as long as it works within the frame work of the
NATO Alliance and remains subordinate to it. It sees the
WEU as the strengthening of the European pillar within the
NATO Alliance, which the U.S. has been asking Europe to do
for some time, but is very wary of the increasing strength
of the European military forces and co-operation between EC
countries. The U.S. is worried of the growing political
weight that the EC carries as well as it's economic wealth
and observes a change in attitude towards American
influence in Europe at a time when American troops have
been drawn down from a peak of 320,000 before the Gulf War
to it's present 220,000 within Europe. The British Stance
The British role has been by far the most difficult and
most versatile of all the countries involved in this
situation. They have gone to great lengths to persuade WEU
countries that the WEU should be the European pillar within
the NATO Alliance and should remain subordinate to NATO. It
realises that for the moment without the same intelligence
gathering sources of the U.S. and it's strength in
logistical support the WEU could not hope to fight a
conflict on the scale of the Gulf War without superior U.S.
influence. On the technological side the introduction of
the European Fighter Aircraft in the year 2,000 in which
Britain is playing the leading role will more than enhance
the WEU capability for ground attack in a time of conflict.
The importance of superior air power became all too evident
during the Gulf War. It has gone to great lengths to try to
enhance the Transatlantic co-operation by assuring America
that the Anglo-American special relationship is still as
strong as ever. A lot of this work has been done by the
Defence Secretary, Malcom Rifkind, who has worked hard to
win over other allies to the WEU as a strong but integral
part of NATO, which could also in a time of crisis work in
areas where NATO can not be or may not wished to be
The British position on the Franco-German brigade within
the WEU is that each member country of the WEU should offer
units for peacekeeping and peacemaking and that under a
British proposal put forward by Malcom Rifkind the
Franco-German force could be one of these designated units.
Since this initiative the French minister Pierre Joxe has
confirmed that the Franco-German brigade would be available
for WEU operations. It also sees the double hatting of
multilateral forces such as the British-Dutch amphibious
force operating both under NATO and a WEU framework. The
British have also been given the task of heading the NATO
Rapid Reaction Corps to which it has committed substantial
troops and aircraft. This force will be used as the "out of
area" force designated by NATO to move anywhere in the
world within a short period of time. This appointment was
seen by the French and Germans to be an Anglo-Saxon
dominance of NATO, however Malcom Rifkind hinted that
European forces within the NATO Rapid Reaction Corps might
also operate under the WEU in a time of crises where U.S.
troops could not be deployed. Britain has called for all
new European forces to be put under control of the WEU and
by doing this hopes to group them under a broader frame
work. The European Fighter Over the last decade the cost of
weapons research and production has gone spiralling through
the roof. In a time when governments are under increasing
pressure to increase the amount of money allocated to
social rather than defence spending it has made sense to
collaborate with various new weapon systems. One of these
such ventures was to be a collaboration between Great
Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In 1983 all five
nation air forces agreed upon an outline "staff target" for
a joint fighter aircraft. In 1984 all five nations endorsed
a formal staff target, however by 1985 the French had
withdrawn from the project on the grounds that the British
would head the project over design leadership. In 1986 the
Eurofighter and Eurojet consortium formed for the EJ200
engine development and in May 1988 the U.K., Italy and
Germany gave the go ahead for development followed shortly
after by Spain. In 1990 a row broke out over the radar
system to be installed within the fighter between the U.K.
and Germany the reasons for this were down to the cost and
specifications required by both nations for their own
interpretation of what the radar should cost and do. By
1991 the Germans had set up a parliamentary review
committee due to the cost of the aircraft increasing by
three to four percent a year and with the reunification
costing Germany vast amounts and the German budget
decreasing by three to four percent a year due to the cost
of propping up the East German economy it was viewed that
the aircraft was doubling in cost by the Germans and that a
cheaper and lighter aircraft should be designed and
produced. By 1992 there was discontent not only within the
German armed forces but also within public opinion that the
aircraft was costing far too much. In a statement issued by
the German Defence Minister, Volker Ruhe he said that he
was not going to "destroy the German armed forces of some
370,000 soldiers for the sake of a single weapon system, we
cannot afford this attitude of business as usual if we want
to make the German unification process successful. Ruhe
pointed out that Germany's long standing commitment to the
fighter extended only through the nearly completed
development phase, and that all parties realised that a
separate decision would be made by Germany on the
production phase by 1994.
Ruhe pointed out that two years from now Soviet fighters
which are based only 30 kms from his home city will be more
than a thousand miles to the east. "And between us and them
there is already a free and independent Poland and
Ukraine". To the astonishment of the other three nations in
late June of 1992 Germany promptly withdrew from the
Eurofighter project. Nearly a month before the Defence
Minister had vowed to slash Germany's defence spending by
another DM20-billion ($13-billion) from procurement over
the next twelve years. 

These cuts would come on top of the DM43.7-billion
($28.3-billion) in cuts announced by his predecessor.
Ruhe's purpose was to concentrate on modernising and
integrating the East German resources into the military
whilst keeping up the morale of the troops. It was with
some concern that the German government reviewed its
decision, when it later realised the implications of the
withdrawal to its own defence industry and the true scale
of the part that it played within the project. By
withdrawing from the project it had put the jobs at risk of
some 20,000 defence workers involved in the EFA development
which could then go to the other countries, not only
increasing their employment statistics but also loosing
German firms involved in the production of parts and
research valuable exports and money. Even the aircraft's
direct rivals the French firm Dassault expressed concern as
they believed France's own long term survival in the
military aircraft business depended on having strong
European partners. On December 11th 1992 the German
Chancellor Helmet Kohl had over turned the decision of his
defence minister and reluctantly announced that Germany was
to stay in the £22 billion project. The British were said
to be delighted with the decision as they had put a great
deal of pressure on the Germans and were at one time
prepared to go it alone when Italy and Spain expressed
doubts in the project after Germany's withdrawal. After
consultation between the revamped collaboration
representatives it was decided to rename the aircraft as
the Eurofighter 2000. The German decision it seems was
based upon the effect on its defence industry as well as
its wanting to show that it was a leading force in the WEU.
A number of studies showed that the cost could be reduced
by as much as thirty percent with some alterations to the
aircraft that would not significantly alter its role or its
performance. The German government stated that it would
stay in the development project until 1995, when it will
make a decision on whether to stay with the production
phase. The current cost of the aircraft is put at DM
30-million, just over half the cost of its cheapest rival.
Great Britain has some 15,000 people engaged in the
Eurofighter 2000 development programme within Britain. The
Way Forward The last number of years have seen an increase
in the standing of the WEU as a creditable force at the
expense of some concern shown by the Americans. The WEU can
only remain to be a creditable force if it continues to
work within the guidelines of international law, and works
within the European pillar of the NATO Alliance until
through technological advances in its weapon systems and
intelligence gathering capabilities it will be big enough
to go on its own without the U.S. and NATO. This must be
done within the framework of the EC and the political and
economical standing of the EC as a truly European assembly.
On the horizon, Malta, Cypress, Turkey and Morocco have
officially requested membership, although only the first
two are likely to be seen as accepted within the near
future. While other European countries such as Austria and
Sweden that have traditionally been neutral, have made
applications to join the EC fully conscious of the move
towards political and security union, they have indicated
that they see no problem with this. Other neutral or non
aligned states such as Switzerland and Finland are also
debating whether to make official requests for membership
of the EC. Norway and Iceland are already members of NATO
and should have no problems of joining if they should so
wish. Former Warsaw Pact countries such as Poland, Czech
and Slovakia and Hungary have expressed concern over the
vacuum caused by the demise of the Warsaw Pact and see the
EC as an "economic role model and political haven".
When considered if all of these states were to join the EC
which enhances both political and security union then the
Western European Union could one day stretch from Iceland
in the North to Morocco in the south and from Dublin in the
West even up to the very gates of Moscow itself. That would
be a more than creditable force to be reckoned with!


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