Western European Union

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https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westunion navigation European Union
WEU Map.svg
  • Member States *
  • associated Member States *
  • Observer states *
  • associated partner states *
  • * at the time of dissolution.
    founding October 23, 1954
    resolution June 30, 2011
    Website www.weu.int

    The Western European Union ( WEU ; French UEO, Union de l'Europe occidentale ) was a collective military assistance pact that was founded on October 23, 1954 by France , Great Britain , Belgium , the Netherlands , Luxembourg , the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy . It emerged from the Brussels Pact , of which France, Great Britain and the Benelux countries were already members. The founding documents, the Paris Treaties , came into force on May 5, 1955.

    In the meantime, the WEU has been incorporated into the common security and defense policy of the European Union . On March 31, 2010, the presidency of the WEU announced that the organization would be dissolved. This was completed by the end of June 2011.


    Established as an assistance pact

    After the failure of the European Defense Community in 1954, the WEU was signed as a collective pact for the most important countries in Western Europe . The British government in particular stepped up its efforts to promote its preferred admission of the Federal Republic into NATO . In order to preserve the element of a European organization demanded mainly by France, the Brussels Pact of 1948 was considered. This was concluded between France, Great Britain and the Benelux countries in order to deal with a possible Soviet offensive as well as immediately after the Second World War to counter renewed aggression in Germany. At the same time as joining NATO, the Federal Republic and Italy were also included in the Brussels Pact, which has now been renamed the "Western European Union".

    In contrast to the European Defense Community, which never came into being, the WEU was by no means a European community army. In principle, their function was limited to enabling the Federal Republic of Germany to join NATO and thus ending the occupation. Shortly after its founding, the Western European Union thus became meaningless again, as NATO largely took over its tasks.

    In addition, only the founding treaty, in which the members undertook to provide mutual military aid, agreed upper limits for the respective armed forces and Germany renounced the possession of NBC and other heavy weapons, was significant. In this early phase, the WEU also comprised a Council of Ministers and a parliamentary body for its control, but in the end only the Arms Control Office, which monitored compliance with the arms restrictions, and the Standing Armaments Committee, which was responsible for the technical alignment of the Weapon systems of the member states.

    Remaining in insignificance

    There could be no question of a direct influence on the armed forces of the member states or on the strategic planning of European defense. These tasks were reserved for NATO. Commitments to promote European integration on a cultural and social level were never implemented, and the mere claim to these tasks was given to the Council of Europe as early as 1960. The WEU should play a more important role as a guarantee authority for the planned compromise solution for the status of the Saarland . When this regulation failed in 1955 due to the referendum , this function did not come about.

    From 1963, the WEU also served as a contact body between the EEC and Great Britain.

    During the Cold War , the WEU did not succeed in acquiring any perceptible political importance alongside the powerful and much more capable bodies NATO and EC , despite France's withdrawal from the NATO command structure in 1966. The reason for this low importance was that at the latest after Great Britain joined in 1973, the EC was available to all WEU members as a communication forum with greater political leeway. The WEU was only used occasionally as a kind of special interest group for European NATO members. In addition, the WEU was practically irrelevant to strategic defense planning. It dealt only with arms control in the member states. Since these states belonged to an alliance and faced a common enemy, there was hardly any political shaping, let alone disputes, in this area.

    Attempt to reactivate

    After the WEU remained more or less inactive in the 1960s and 1970s, it was reactivated in the 1980s. The Europeans felt excluded from the growing rapprochement of the superpowers and decided to use the WEU to articulate their interests. Since the second half of the 1980s, attempts have been made to include this policy area more intensively in European integration with European Political Cooperation (EPZ) . In addition, Portugal and Spain joined the WEU in 1989. The structural prerequisites for actions by the WEU were only met at the beginning of the 1990s, when the political changes in the states of Eastern Europe had fundamentally changed the military conditions. The EPZ flowed in the 1992 negotiated the Maastricht Treaty in the common foreign and security policy one.

    Although the memberships in the two organizations did not exactly overlap either, from 1990 the Council of Ministers of the WEU largely assumed the role of a Council of Defense Ministers of the EU. The WEU acted as a mouthpiece for the security interests of the EC, but was still not active. Announcements on crises, such as in the case of the Second Gulf War or the Yugoslav Wars , usually only contained rough statements or general calls for action. Specific actions were left to the individual states. The WEU bodies only served to coordinate these operations (for example Operation South Flank 1991) between the states.

    The tasks of the WEU were redefined in 1992 with the definition of the Petersberg tasks by the Council of Ministers. The WEU was placed “as a defense component of the EU and as an instrument to strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance” exactly between the two institutions EU and NATO. The military tasks of the individual member states have been reconsidered and expanded to include humanitarian tasks, combat missions in crisis areas and peace-making and peace-enforcing missions. In the context of the required “strengthening of the operational role of the WEU”, multinational troops should also be able to be deployed under direct WEU command in the future. Member states were asked to make units available for such WEU units in a binding manner.

    The so-called Forces Answerable to WEU (FAWEU) were, for example, the Multinational Division Central or the European Operational Rapid Force (Eurofor). The security policy dialogue with the former communist states in Eastern Europe should also be intensified on the basis of consultations, invitations to meetings of WEU bodies and events of the WEU Institute for Security Studies.

    Since then, the participating states have officially attempted to implement the Petersberg resolutions by assigning multinational associations to any WEU operations. However, it did not come to the establishment of its own command structure or even military operations under direct WEU command. Activities such as the control of the southern Adriatic due to the economic and arms embargo against Yugoslavia ( Operation Sharp Guard ) or the support of police operations in Albania and Yugoslavia represented de facto support for NATO operations by individual states, for which the WEU merely served as a voting body. In 1993 the Council and the General Secretariat of the WEU were relocated to Brussels , whereby the required stronger ties to the EU and NATO were also anchored spatially. Another focus of WEU work in the 1990s was the development of a European satellite reconnaissance system.

    In November 1996 the Western European Armaments Organization (WEAO) was founded for arms cooperation in the field of research and technology in the WEU countries. It was planned to expand the WEAO with extensive tasks to become the European Armaments Agency (EAA).

    Attempted integration into the EU

    In the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, the WEU moved closer to the EU by designating it as the future security component of the European Union. In addition, the European Council was given the authority to issue guidelines vis-à-vis the WEU. However, no specific assignment of tasks and goals was made in order to be able to fulfill this role. At the WEU ministerial meeting on November 17 and 18, 1997 in Erfurt , a closer bilateral and multilateral arms cooperation and the creation of a military committee were decided.

    The attempted integration of the WEU into the EU in the run-up to the Amsterdam EU summit was rejected by Great Britain. The older dispute between the two poles Great Britain (European pillar in NATO) and France (independent European defense) continued. The U-turn only came in 1998, when Great Britain agreed to build a European defense at the Franco-British summit in St. Malo . This is where the real integration of the WEU into the EU and thus the EU's common security and defense policy began.

    Since the declaration of Marseille on November 13, 2000, the WEU only existed on paper. The WEU Council had not met since then. Only the obligation to provide assistance under Article V and the Parliamentary Assembly of the WEU under Article IX continued to apply. The tasks of the WEU were almost entirely taken over by the European Union .

    Therefore, the Treaty of Nice removed the reference to the WEU from the EU treaties. As part of the Lisbon Treaty , the final functions of the WEU (including planning capacities as well as the research and satellite centers) were transferred to the EU.

    The End

    On March 31, 2010, the presidency of the WEU announced that the organization would be dissolved. The Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere said that the organization would be fully wound up by the end of June 2011. The German government has approved the termination of the relevant contracts. Great Britain also announced its exit.

    From June 15 to 17, 2011, the European Assembly for Security and Defense / Assembly of the Western European Union took place as the 58th General Assembly in Paris. The discussions focused on the development of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), the impending dissolution of the European Assembly for Security and Defense, the Western European Union (WEU V) and the political situation in the Western Balkans , Iran , the Middle East and the in Afghanistan . The meeting also dealt with European defense cooperation, the development of satellite-based early warning systems and medical cooperation between the European armed forces.

    Chronological order

    in force
    European Act
      Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif Pix.gif
    European Communities Three pillars of the European Union
    European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM)
    European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Contract expired in 2002 European Union (EU)
        European Economic Community (EEC) European Community (EC)
          Justice and Home Affairs (JI)
      Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (PJZS)
    European Political Cooperation (EPC) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP)
    Western Union (WU) Western European Union (WEU)    
    dissolved on July 1, 2011


    The member states of the WEU were the following states, which also belong to NATO and the EU :

    Denmark never joined the WEU. The states that joined the EU after 2001 also no longer joined the WEU, which had already been de facto dissolved at that time.

    Associated member states of the WEU had to be NATO members. These included:

    WEU observer states were EU member states that could not or would not be full members. Mostly they were neutral or not bound by a pact, for example:

    Associated partner states of the WEU were states that had concluded a Europe Agreement with the EU . These were:

    General Secretaries

    The WEU had a Secretary General appointed by the Heads of State and Government. He headed the organization, managed its administration and was responsible for the implementation of its goals. In 1999 the European Council agreed to combine the office of Secretary General with that of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union , whereby Javier Solana took over the management of the WEU. After the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty , however, his successor as High Representative, Catherine Ashton , did not take over this office either . Instead, a acting general secretary was appointed.

    Surname country Term of office
    Louis Goffin BelgiumBelgium Belgium 1955-1962
    Maurice Iweins d'Eeckhoutte BelgiumBelgium Belgium 1962-1970
    Georges Heisbourg LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg 1971-1974
    Friedrich-Karl von Plehwe GermanyGermany Germany 1974-1977
    Edouard Longerstaey BelgiumBelgium Belgium 1977-1985
    Alfred Cahen BelgiumBelgium Belgium 1985-1989
    Wim van Eekelen NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 1989-1994
    José Cutileiro PortugalPortugal Portugal 1994-1999
    Javier Solana SpainSpain Spain 1999-2009
    Arnaud Jacomet FranceFrance France 2009-2010

    Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the WEU (selection)

    From 1992 the Council of Ministers of the WEU consisted of the foreign ministers as well as the defense ministers of the member states.


    • Eberhard Birk : The functional change of the Western European Union (WEU) in the European integration process (= spectrum political science , volume 9). Ergon Verlag, Würzburg 1999, ISBN 3-933563-32-1 .

    Web links

    Commons : Western European Union  - collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ A b German press agency : Western European Union decides to dissolve. (No longer available online.) Oberbayerisches Volksblatt , April 1, 2010, archived from the original on May 13, 2012 ; Retrieved April 3, 2010 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ovb-online.de
    2. ^ A b Western European Union: Statement of the Presidency of the Permanent Council of the WEU on behalf of the High Contracting Parties to the Modified Brussels Treaty - Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. (PDF; 18 kB) March 31, 2010, accessed on July 13, 2010 .
    3. ^ Western European Union: Declaration of Marseille. (PDF; 18 kB) November 13, 2000, accessed on July 24, 2010 .
    4. ^ German press agency : WEU decides to dissolve - end of the Cold War. Die Zeit , March 31, 2010, accessed on April 3, 2010 .
    5. Armin Kockel: The assistance clause in the Lisbon Treaty , ISBN 978-3-631-62237-7 , European University Writings series, Peter Lang 2012.
    6. ^ Agence France-Presse : After 56 years - the Western European Union military alliance dissolved. N24 , March 31, 2010, accessed November 14, 2016 .
    7. German Press Agency : Great Britain announces exit from the WEU confederation. Lausitzer Rundschau , March 31, 2010, accessed on December 7, 2015 .