Western European Union

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Western European Union

(WEU), European security and defense organization. It was set up in Brussels in 1955 as a defensive, economic, social, and cultural organization, consisting of Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; Portugal and Spain became members in 1988, and Greece joined in 1995. After France had refused to ratify a treaty providing for a European Defense Community, the WEU was created as a substitute solution embodied in the Paris PactsParis Pacts,
four international agreements signed in Paris on Oct. 23, 1954, to establish a new international status for West Germany. Since the end of World War II, West Germany had been occupied by Allied forces and lacked its own means of defense.
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. Since Western military cooperation had been dominated by the North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO), established under the North Atlantic Treaty (Apr. 4, 1949) by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States.
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 (NATO) and Western economic coordination by the European Economic CommunityEuropean Economic Community
(EEC), organization established (1958) by a treaty signed in 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany (now Germany); it was known informally as the Common Market.
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 and later the European Free Trade AssociationEuropean Free Trade Association
(EFTA), customs union and trading bloc; its current members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. EFTA was established in 1960 by Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland.
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, the primary function of the WEU was to supervise the rearmament of Germany, as provided for under the Paris Pacts. In 1960, the WEU transferred its cultural and social activities to the Council of EuropeCouncil of Europe,
international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.
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. Under the Maastricht Treaty (1992), the WEU was envisioned as the future military arm of the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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 (EU); it remained institutionally autonomous. In 1995 the Eurocorps, a joint force drawn from some of the WEU members, became operational. An additional 18 nations from central Europe, NATO, and/or the EU joined the WEU as associate members, observers, or associate partners in the 1990s. In 1999 the EU voted to absorb all the functions of the WEU in preparation for making the EU a defensive and peacekeeping military organization as well as a social and economic one.

Western European Union

 

a military-political organization composed of Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. It was created in May 1955 as a result of the inclusion of Italy and the FRG in the Brussels Treaty Organization, which was established by the Brussels Treaty of 1948, and the insertion ino the text of this treaty of appropriate changes and supplements. The treaty concerning the Western European Union is to remain in effect until 1998.

The Brussels Treaty Organization was transformed into the Western European Union in accordance with the Paris Agreements of 1954, which provided for the end of the occupation regime of the USA, Great Britain, and France in West Germany and which formalized the inclusion of the FRG in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was directed against the USSR and other socialist states. There are close organizational ties between the Western European Union and NATO. The treaty on the Western European Union provides for the rendering of assistance, including military aid, if one of the member countries is subjected to “attack” in Europe. Consultations on political, economic, and other questions are also provided for. The directing organs of the Western European Union are the Council, composed of the ministers of foreign affairs of the member countries, and the Assembly, composed of parliamentarians of these countries, who are at the same time members of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. The decisions of the Council and the Assembly of the Western European Union are in the nature of recommendations for the member countries. Also created within the framework of the Western European Union was the Agency for the Control of Armaments, whose work amounts essentially to seeing that West Germany observes the limitations in producing certain types of armaments, as established by the Paris Agreements. However, upon the recommendation of the military organs of NATO, the Western European Union is empowered to adopt decisions weakening these limitations.

During the 1960’s and early 1970’s the activity of the Western European Union decreased owing to the sharpening of contradictions among its members and the advance to the foreground of other organizations of the Western European countries, in particular, the European Economic Community (Common Market).

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