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The Western European Union Essay, Research Paper

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 Agreements.

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 deployed.

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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