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 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 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!