Western European Union

From Academic Kids

Not to be confused with the European Union (EU), the Western European Union (WEU) is a partially dormant European defence and security organization composed of those states who were members of both NATO and the EU (except Denmark) before the latter expanded in June 2004.

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The flag of the Western European Union

The Brussels Treaty was the forerunner of the WEU. It was signed by the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands on March 17, 1948. It was a mutual intergovernmental self defence treaty which also promoted economic, cultural and social collaboration. As a result of the failure of the European Defence Community on October 23, 1954 the WEU was established with the incorporation of the then West Germany and Italy. It's 2 stated aims were:

  • to afford assistance to each other in resisting any policy of aggression
  • to promote unity and to encourage the progressive integration of Europe

Most of its functions are in the process of being merged into the EU. The Parliamentary Assembly of the WEU is composed of the delegations of the member states to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which, fearful for its future existence with the winding up of the WEU, has been lobbying for itself to be recognised as the "European Security and Defence Assembly".

Some of the moves that have taken place and indicate the partial merger of the WEU into the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU have been the following:

Supposedly full merger was to occur in 2000; however, as of 2004 the WEU is still alive and much European military planning takes place within its constituent cells. New York University's book, Defending Europe, paints the situation as a "revival of the WEU" rather than a shutting down of it. On June 14, 2001, Solana stated that there was no forseeable reason to change the status of the non member countries in the organisation.



The WEU has a rotating 6 month presidency. When the President of the Council of the EU belongs to a country that is also a member of the EU then that member is also the President of the WEU, and when a non member heads the EU a different member state takes over the presidency. Until July 1 Luxembourg is President when he will hand over to the UK. Unusually the UK will continue as President for a second term on January 1, 2006 when non-member Austria takes over the EU presidency.


Eurofor (European Operational Rapid Force) is a task force of the Western European Union that became operational in June 1998.

On 15 May 1995, the Council of Ministers of the WEU met in Lisbon. Declaration of EUROFOR's creation was made by France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

See the Eurofor website for additional information.

Participating States

The Western European Union has 10 member countries, 6 associate member countries, 5 observer countries and 7 associate partner countries. They are as follows:

Missing image
Red: Members, Green: Associate members, Blue: Observers, Purple: Associate partners.

Member countries: (modified Brussels Treaty - 1954)

All of them being members of both NATO and the European Union. These are the only nations that have full voting rights.

Associate member countries: (Rome - 1992)

Associate membership was created to include the European countries that were members of NATO but not of the European Union. Since then, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have also joined the EU.

Observer countries: (Rome - 1992)

Most obverver countries are members of the European Union, but not of NATO. Denmark is an exception, being member of both.

Associate partner countries: (Kirchberg - 1994)

Countries that were part of neither NATO nor of the EU. Since then most of the following countries have joined both, with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania who have so far only joined NATO, but will become members of the EU as of January 1, 2007.

External links

de:Westeuropäische Union fr:Union de l'Europe occidentale nl:West-Europese Unie no:Den vesteuropeiske union fi:Länsi-Euroopan unioni


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