The minutes of the joint meeting between the Council of Western European Union (WEU) and the Committee on Defence Questions of the WEU Assembly on 2 December 1958 in London record the debates held in the morning and afternoon sessions. At this meeting, the first session, chaired by Lord Henry Lansdowne from the United Kingdom, focuses on cooperation in the field of armaments. Lord Lansdowne notes that close cooperation in armaments research, development and production is necessary for financial reasons, in view of the cost and complexity of modern weapons, and also for political reasons, particularly given the role that armaments cooperation can play in achieving closer European unity in the light of the communist threat. Cooperation on a case-by-case basis has been established through various bilateral and trilateral arrangements under the aegis of WEU and between the WEU countries through the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC). Two lists of proposals for cooperation have been put forward, one by the United Kingdom and the other by France, Italy and Germany, and are considered to come within the field of action of WEU. Lord Lansdowne underlines that the security considerations are not the main obstacle to armaments cooperation, that the Council is satisfied with the progress made by the SAC and that there is no need to step up the work at the current time. Finally, he points out that WEU should not take decisions entirely independently of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) unless cooperation with third countries does not yield results.
In a note dated 21 November 1961, the Secretary-General circulates the draft reply by the United Kingdom delegation to the Council of Western European Union (WEU) to Assembly Recommendation No 68 on the Standing Armaments Committee and the joint production of armaments. The Council supports the principle of interdependence in the production of armaments as a means of making savings in costs and manpower and increasing military efficiency. All the WEU Member States are in favour of strengthening cooperation in armaments production, both in WEU and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Council is in agreement with the paragraphs, although it expresses some reservations since joint production is not a universal panacea. When it comes to selecting projects and distributing production between the Member States of WEU and NATO, this should be done rationally so as to avoid unnecessary duplication and to make sure that joint production is only pursued when it is the quickest and cheapest option for securing new arms for Western defence. The Council also recognises the difficulties experienced by the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC); the national representatives are currently in consultation with the Director and Secretariat to ascertain whether any additional work can be undertaken by the SAC.
In a note dated 14 May 1963, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the draft reply by the French delegation to the WEU Council to Assembly Recommendation 85 on standardisation and interdependence in the production of armaments. The Council notes that joint armaments production raises many difficulties that can only be overcome by political will both at bilateral level and also at multilateral level, particularly within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
In a note dated 22 May 1963, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the reply by the WEU Council to Assembly Recommendation 85 on standardisation and interdependence in the production of armaments. The text is identical to the proposal made by the French delegation on 14 May 1963 (C(63)53).
In a note dated 25 June 1965, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the text of question 93 put by Georg Kliesing, a German member of the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments, as well as a draft reply drawn up jointly by the British and French delegations. The draft summarises and supersedes the drafts in documents WPM(479) and WPM(481), and also confirms that the two states are keen to consider the participation of third countries in the construction of light strike and trainer aircraft.
In a note dated 26 January 1967, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates written question 100 put to the Council by Étienne de la Vallée Poussin, a Belgian member of the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments, together with the draft reply drawn up by the French and British delegations to the WEU and reproduced in the final version (see C(67)23). Etienne de la Vallée Poussin speculates on the possibility of other WEU Member States participating in the proposed Anglo-French project for the development of a variable-geometry aircraft. The Council replies that any governments interested in this project should directly approach the French and British Governments, which are prepared in principle to consider industrial participation by other countries, including members of WEU.
On 10 June 1976, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the reply by the WEU Council to Assembly Recommendation 281. The Council notes that all the countries in the Atlantic Alliance have a duty to contribute to security in the light of the increasing strength of the Warsaw Pact’s forces, particularly by developing a competitive armaments industry that has sufficient means for research and production. The Council encourages any initiatives that promote cooperation and interoperability in the field of armaments. It welcomes the results obtained by the European Programme Group (IEPG) and points out that avoiding destandardisation is as important as promoting standardisation. These matters are dealt with in WEU, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Eurogroup and the IEPG, and there is no need for a new list of armaments programmes to be drawn up. The Council has asked the Standing Armaments Committee to produce a descriptive analysis of the situation of the armaments industries in the WEU Member States so as to provide a clearer insight into the industrial and economic implications of the standardisation of armaments. Despite the difficulties involved in this cooperation, the Member States attach particular importance to these activities and will not let themselves be discouraged.
On 21 November 1977, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a note containing the reply from the WEU Council to Recommendation 297 on a European armaments policy, which is largely based on the proposal from the French delegation (WPM(77)25/1). The Council notes that it has urged the WEU Member States to make every effort to maintain a viable European armaments industry by ensuring the interoperability of their equipment and standardisation. The Council also refers to the mandate given to the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) to produce an analysis of the situation of European industry in the armaments sector and to the importance of the work of the independent European Programme Group (IEPG), which will be able to provide the SAC with some of the data it needs for its analysis. Finally, the Council affirms that it has always supported the initiatives of the North Atlantic Council and its dependent bodies in the areas of armaments and the standardisation and interoperability of equipment.
In a note dated 1 April 1981, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the reply from the WEU Council to Assembly Recommendation 362 on international industrial consortia and collaborative arrangements for the production of high technology military equipment. The reply is largely based on the French proposal (WPM(81)11). The changes are mostly in paragraph 5: the Council does not retain France’s text, which emphasised the role of consortia and suggested that they should become the general rule for ‘requests for proposals’ issued by military staffs. The final reply confirms that each state is free to decide how such requests are passed on to industry.
At its meeting on 12 February 1958, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) analyses cooperation between France, Germany and Italy in the field of arms production. A statement is made on behalf of the three governments, and the French representative, Jean Chauvel, sets out France’s position on the European contribution to Atlantic cooperation in the field of armaments. In view of the financial, technical and industrial difficulties, France proposes the introduction of a joint regional programme with the aim of harmonising military concepts concerning the organisation, use and equipment of armed forces with the directives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in the interests of common defence.