The Western European Union

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.

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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
themselves.


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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