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 …