On 4 April 1949, in Washington, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States sign the North Atlantic Treaty. The Treaty enters into force on 24 August 1949.
On 14 October 1954, a working group drafts a document for the Conference of Ministers of the Nine, due to be held in Paris on 21 October. The first Protocol amends and complements the Brussels Treaty on the basis of the Final Act of the London Conference. It provides for the accession of Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany to the Brussels Treaty, for the powers of the Council to be clarified and extended and for the Council to be reorganised based on the structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Political scrutiny of the Agency for the Control of Armaments (ACA) is assigned to the Council. The working group establishes the relations between the new Western European Union (WEU) and NATO, recognising the importance of close cooperation between the two organisations.
On 22 October 1954, in Brussels, the North Atlantic Council adopts a resolution which seeks to enhance the collective defence system in Europe, to step up the integration of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces and to increase the powers and responsibilities of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The Brussels Treaty of 17 March 1948, modified and completed by the protocols signed in Paris on 23 October 1954 which enter into force on 6 May 1955. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and Italy accede to the modified Treaty. The ‘Consultative Council’ becomes the ‘Council of Western European Union’ (Article VIII), and the organisation established by the Treaty is renamed ‘Western European Union’ (WEU).
On 23 October 1954, in Paris, the five Member States of Western Union (France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg), together with Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), sign the Protocol Modifying and Completing the Brussels Treaty of 1948, thereby establishing Western European Union. From left to right: Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bech, Paul-Henri Spaak, Pierre Mendès France and Gaetano Martino.
The third meeting of the Interim Commission is held on 22 November 1954. Although all the delegations agree that the Council should remain free from the regular presence of a representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), British representative Lord Harold Caccia believes that it would be useful to ask for NATO’s opinion on the best way of establishing links between the two organisations.
In this press release for cinema newsreels, Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary, announces to his fellow citizens the decision to hold a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, emphasises the agreements between the Atlantic Alliance and the newly created Western European Union (WEU), and justifies the establishment of WEU.
In his memoirs, Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary from 1951 to 1955, describes the final negotiations and the signing, on 23 October 1954 in Paris, of the Agreements establishing Western European Union (WEU).
On 14 December 1954, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a note drafted by the Interim Commission for the meeting at ministerial level scheduled for 18 December (document IWG/20). Following the previous discussions (documents IWG/8 and IWG/10), the Commission has adopted the principle that no organisation or non-member country should be systematically represented within the Council or its subsidiary bodies. Moreover, in order to promote cooperation between WEU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Commission suggests that contact should be established between the Secretaries-General of WEU and NATO and that a NATO observer should be invited whenever the WEU Council considers it appropriate.
On 10 March 1955, the US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, sends to the governments of Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom a letter in which he sets out the reasons why the United States welcomes the establishment of Western European Union (WEU) and his ideas on how relations between WEU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) should be structured.
In preparation for the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council to be held in Paris from 9 to 11 May 1955, the British Foreign Office publishes a simplified chart outlining the interconnections between Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
At the meeting of 24 October 1956, the President-in-Office of the Council of Western European Union (WEU), Joseph Luns from the Netherlands, informs the Council that, following their previous meetings, he asked the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Lord Hastings Ismay, to send him any information on discussions within NATO concerning relations between the two organisations. But at a private meeting of the NATO Council it appears to have been decided that it would be impossible to allow Lord Ismay to send the WEU Secretary-General the information that he has requested, thereby contravening the principle of reciprocity.
On 8 November 1957, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) meets to discuss Recommendation No 18, in which the Assembly asked the Council to provide it with information on the decisions taken in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Council recognises in principle the need to inform the Assembly on European defence matters. But in practice, the Council does not have sufficient information in the field of defence; it is dependent on the willingness of NATO to help. Jean Chauvel from France states that he must reserve the position of his government for the time being and that the transfer of powers from WEU to NATO would require something in return from NATO. Sir Anthony Rumbold from the United Kingdom suggests that the problem should be put to NATO as soon as possible to determine the best solution. The Council therefore decides to convene a working party to draft a communication to NATO on this question. With regard to the Assembly’s proposal, which could result in a second WEU Council, Sir Anthony Rumbold states that his Minister seems favourable to the idea and that, according to the United Kingdom NATO representative, this request for information should not raise any difficulties for the non-WEU members of NATO. Personally, Jean Chauvel considers that the procedure is not satisfactory and that it could be viewed negatively by those states since such an agreement would give seven Atlantic countries the exclusive privilege of receiving information. He therefore wonders whether the Council could act as an intermediary between NATO and the Assembly, referring any questions coming within the remit of NATO and their replies to the Assembly.
In this interview, Willem van Eekelen, Adviser to the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the North Atlantic Council from 1966 to 1971, describes the reasons, at the time, for the limited cooperation between Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
This extract from the minutes of the ministerial meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU) held in Brussels on 17 November 1960 sets out various questions concerning the debate on relations between the Council and the Assembly in the area of defence. The members of the Council share the view that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) should not be asked to change its security regulations to provide classified information to the Defence Committee. They approve the idea of developing close unofficial contacts between the Secretariats of WEU and NATO and emphasise the need to make better use of national information sources. French representative Jean Chauvel affirms that the replies given by the WEU Council should always have a collegiate character as difficulties would arise if each minister were to present a national viewpoint. It is also important to improve the drafting of the Assembly’s questions and Recommendations and to communicate them sufficiently in advance for the Council to be able to provide adequate replies. British minister Edward Heath points out an anomaly, namely that the NATO Parliamentarians’ Conference has sometimes received information which has been refused to members of the WEU Assembly. The Assembly’s proposals concerning the representation of the Council at joint meetings are therefore not accepted.
On 5 January 1966, almost 22 000 US soldiers from the 3rd Armored Division and 3 000 soldiers from the 15th Tank Brigade of the West German Army take part in a joint military exercise known as Silberkralle to test their operability in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact. The photo shows a convoy of American tanks being transported by train near the town of Lieblos in Hesse. ‘Reforger’ (Return of Forces to Germany) manoeuvres were intended to make sure the US had the ability to strengthen the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) by deploying units forming the US III Corps. The CENTAG (Central Army Group) reserve was supplied by the French with the 1st Army.
On 6 January 1969, US ground troops arrive from America at Frankfurt airport on C-141 Starlifter military aircraft to take part in the Reforger I exercise (‘return of forces to Germany’). This annual exercise, carried out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from 1969 to 1993, is intended to demonstrate NATO’s ability to deploy more than a hundred thousand men to defend West Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact. The soldiers’ equipment is already stored in Europe in huge warehouses, most of which are in West Germany.