In this interview excerpt, Francis Gutmann, an official in the French Foreign Ministry from 1951 to 1957 and Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry from 1981 to 1985, explains that he sees Article V of the Modified Brussels Treaty, signed in 1954, and Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty or Washington Treaty, signed in 1949, as complementary. These articles both provide for automatic military assistance between the members of the organisation in the event of an attack on any one of them.
In 1950, senior British and French army officers observe a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) exercise in West Germany. Lieutenant Colonel F. Stephens, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade, explains the exercise to a group of officers including General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Major General Robert Harry Bertram Arkwright, General Officer Commanding 7th Armoured Division and Lieutenant General Sir Charles F. Keightley, Commander-in-Chief British Army of the Rhine.
At its meeting on 2 December 1954 in London, the Interim Commission continues to examine the question of relations between Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Following the debates at the third meeting, Secretary-General Lord Ismay is invited to attend the session to address two main subjects: the admission of a permanent observer to WEU and the nature of relations to be established between the two Secretariats-General. According to Lord Ismay, although the principle of close cooperation is generally accepted, a permanent of observer may not be able to deal with every question that might arise. French Ambassador René Massigli, chairman of the meeting, suggests using ad hoc observers, and notes that it would be up to the Council to decide when this would be necessary. Lord Harold Caccia confirms the United Kingdom’s agreement.
On 18 December 1954, the seven Foreign Ministers of Western European Union (WEU) meet in Paris. The ministers discuss the questions raised at previous sessions, particularly the machinery for fulfilling the military tasks of the Council. The President of the Council and French Foreign Minister Pierre Mendès France emphasises that, while the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s authority should not be diminished, the Council also has various military responsibilities such as regulating the maximum level of forces and controlling armaments, and that it would be useful to hold meetings between the national representatives in order to fulfil these tasks.
On 16 February 1955, Sir Anthony Eden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom, writes to Sir Gladwyn Jebb, British Ambassador to Paris, outlining the British position on the future role of Western European Union (WEU). The letter identifies the main tasks of the organisation and emphasises that, for its successful development, WEU should remain an intergovernmental organisation and should not attempt to become a supranational community on the model of the European Defence Community (EDC). WEU should not attempt to take action which duplicates or cuts across the work of existing organisations. For instance, in the military sphere, it should rely on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s military authorities for information and advice. Additionally, the British emphasise their close relationship with the United States, insisting that in the development of WEU a proper balance must be maintained between the needs of the organisation itself and those of the wider Atlantic community.
On 4 May 1955, the Foreign Office issues a brief outlining the British position on NATO–WEU relations prior to the ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Paris from 9 to 11 May 1955. The United Kingdom’s position is that, while Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) should maintain close cooperation, WEU should not duplicate NATO’s work. The brief also lists the main WEU bodies that should develop working relationships with NATO: the WEU Council, the Armaments Control Agency and the Standing Armaments Committee.
On 17 May 1955, Pierre Baraduc, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), sends a telegram to French Foreign Minister Antoine Pinay in which he discusses the decision taken on 7 May 1955 by the Council of Western European Union (WEU) to establish a Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) and the possibility that the national permanent representatives to the Committee could also be members of their delegation to NATO. To create a link between the two organisations and to avoid duplicating roles and increasing costs for the delegation, Pierre Baraduc advises that Engineer-General Bron, who is already France’s representative to the NATO Defence Production Committee, should be appointed as the French representative to the WEU SAC.
On 30 may 1956, the Secretary-General circulates a note presented by the French delegation. This note is a draft resolution on the level of forces of the seven Western European Union (WEU) powers under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The draft resolution suggests the following procedure: given the Council’s responsibilities on this matter, the Council would invite the WEU Member States to instruct their permanent representatives to NATO to meet during the NATO annual review to determine whether their level of forces is in compliance with the limits set by Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol II on the forces of Western European Union and to report on this matter to the WEU Council, which would take a unanimous decision on the possibility of increasing force levels.
On 21 November 1956, French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau writes to Jean Chauvel, French Ambassador to London, to give his views on the position that should be adopted concerning Recommendation 6 of the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU) on WEU activities in the field of defence. The question that is raised is whether WEU maintains its role in the area of common defence or whether its powers have been transferred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Christian Pineau believes that WEU’s powers in this field are restricted by the obligations entered into by its members as signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty. Since European defence is inseparable from the defence of the Atlantic Community, close cooperation is required. On the matter of communication between the WEU Council and the Assembly, the Foreign Minister notes that the military aspects of common defence do not come under the Council’s remit. The Council cannot communicate to the Assembly information that it does not own, which the member governments are only aware of because they belong to NATO. However, Christian Pineau does propose that the WEU member governments’ permanent representatives to NATO should be able to communicate information of a general nature to the Assembly.
Meeting on 19 December 1956, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) discusses the future of the organisation. The British representative Lord Hood comments Selwyn Lloyd’s statement on a master plan for an international complex that would comprise three elements: strategic and political direction, economic and financial questions and parliamentary questions. Although Selwyn Lloyd suggests that political consultations be held to discuss his ‘grand design’, French Ambassador Jean Chauvel believes that the WEU Council should stick to their existing programme of work, which is focused on the more limited European problem. He also expresses doubts as to minister Selwyn Lloyd’s idea for a single parliamentary assembly.
On 13 February 1957, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a note containing an exchange of letters between Sir James Hutchison, Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments, and Lord Samuel Hood. In his letter dated 9 February, Sir Hutchison requests an explanation of the automatic aid mechanism within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) so as to clarify whether there are any differences with WEU. In his reply, Lord Hood says that the United States Government has accepted the principle of a collective response in the event of an attack against a Member State, and so the differences in wording between Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty and Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty have only arisen as a result of constitutional reasons peculiar to the US: the practical effect of the two Articles is the same.
On 13 February 1957, following a meeting with John Selwyn Lloyd, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jean Chauvel, French Ambassador to London, sends a telegram to French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau in which he informs him of the United Kingdom’s plan to reduce its troops stationed in Germany. According to John Selwyn Lloyd, the British Government hopes its partners will understand; should they disagree, it could lead to major difficulties. In return for these force reductions, the British Government proposes measures to integrate the forces of Western European Union (WEU) and reiterates its idea to turn this organisation into a ‘genuine alliance’.
On 14 February 1957, Jean Chauvel, French Ambassador to London, sends a letter to French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau in which he forwards the statement by the British delegate to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Lord Hood, which he made that day to the Council of Western European Union (WEU). Lord Hood announced that his government deems its share of costs for Western defence to be too high. To reduce defence costs, the British Government has therefore taken a series of measures to reorganise the country’s forces on the mainland of Europe.
On 14 February 1957, in anticipation of the forthcoming Western European Union (WEU) Ministerial Meeting, on 26–27 February in London, Lord Hood, British delegate to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), forwards a note to the Western Department of the Foreign Office, on the statement he made to the WEU Council concerning the reduction of British forces. The discussion with the different delegates focused on whether or not representatives from NATO should be invited to the next WEU Ministerial Meeting to examine British force reductions.
On 23 February 1957, in preparation for the forthcoming Western European Union (WEU) Ministerial Meeting, due to be held on 26–27 February in London, the British Foreign Office prepares a brief for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Selwyn Lloyd, on the Agreement implementing Article 5 of Protocol II on the forces of WEU. The note gives a background analysis on the agreement and its negotiation phase. The crucial part of the agreement is Article IV, which states that the WEU Council will accept the figures on levels of forces provided to it by the North Atlantic Council. The analysis concludes that the Secretary of State should sign the agreement.
Francis Huré (centre, arms folded), senior diplomatic adviser to the French Embassy in the United Kingdom, takes part in the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Western European Union (WEU), held in London on 26 February 1957.
At its meeting on 26 February 1957 at Lancaster House, London, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) focuses on the reorganisation of British forces. After the remarks by John Selwyn Lloyd, Albert Gazier, French Minister for Social Affairs, stresses that the defence effort of each country is not a question of a percentage of national income or budgetary provisions but should also be considered in terms of income per inhabitant, which means that all the members of the Alliance are facing the same problem. It is therefore vital to promote common defence in a spirit of cooperation, particularly when it comes to weapons production. He notes that it is important for all the Western states to be equipped to deal with all types of aggression. Finally, Albert Gazier is concerned that the British disengagement might have a domino effect, calling the common defence system into question. Since it is unlikely for a decision to be reached during the meeting, the French representative notes that this matter will be considered in depth within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and that once the WEU Council has been informed of NATO’s opinion it will be in a position to resume its discussions.
On 16 March 1957, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reports on the tensions between the United Kingdom and the Western allies, particularly France, over the British plan to reduce its troop numbers in West Germany. Given the concerns raised by certain countries, the diplomatic discussions in the Council of Western European Union (WEU) to find a compromise solution on this matter look set to be difficult.
The minutes of the meeting of 15 March 1957 give a detailed account of the discussions held in the Council of Western European Union (WEU) on the changes to the pattern of United Kingdom forces on the mainland of Europe. After the remarks by French representative Jean Chauvel, Lord Samuel Hood from the United Kingdom mentions the changes that his government has agreed to make to its first proposal contained in document CR(57)8, which raised a series of observations in the North Atlantic Council. Lord Hood has no intention of claiming that the British forces that would remain on the European continent would have an equivalent fighting capacity to those under the command of SACEUR, but the shortfall should not be calculated by ‘counting heads’, since the 50 000 men that would remain on the continent would represent a powerful military force and a substantial contribution to NATO. It would therefore be wrong to think that the United Kingdom is ‘tip-toeing’ out of Europe, since the government is actually showing signs of moving closer to Europe, even if public opinion is not always favourable. If the other WEU members prevent his government from implementing its proposals, this could lead to a break-up of WEU. Lord Hood notes that the changes made to the initial proposals demonstrate the fact that the British Government does not wish to present its allies with a unilateral decision.
On 7 May 1957, the British daily newspaper The Manchester Guardian reports on the censure motion tabled by 12 members of the Western European Union (WEU) Assembly from France, Italy and the Benelux countries against the WEU Council for its approval of the reduction in British military forces in West Germany. This censure motion is tabled despite guarantees by British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs David Ormsby-Gore that the withdrawal of troops will not endanger Western defence.
Following the United Kingdom’s request to the Council of Western European Union (WEU) on 22 January 1958 to withdraw 8 500 of its troops from the European mainland, French Foreign Minister Christian Pineau sends a telegram to Jean Chauvel, French Ambassador to London, on 28 January 1958. He informs Chauvel that, on the basis of the favourable opinion given by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Commander-in-Chief, the French Government has no objections to the United Kingdom’s request. But Pineau emphasises the importance that his government places on the presence of British troops on the continent and points out that a gradual weakening of the British presence could undermine the very foundations of common defence.
On 17 September 1958, General de Gaulle sends a letter to Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, in which he calls for the French memorandum on the reform of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to be the subject of lengthy discussions between France, the United States and the United Kingdom.
On 17 September 1958, General de Gaulle sends a memorandum to the US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and to the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in which he sets out the need for a reform of the integrated structures of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
On 12 August 1959, the Political Directorate of the French Foreign Ministry draws up a note on France’s decision to withdraw its naval forces in the Mediterranean from the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It nevertheless raises the possibility of cooperation with its allies as long as this does not lead to the automatic subordination of its naval forces to an external command organisation.
During the meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU) held on 24 November 1959, the British representative Sir Anthony Rumbold notes that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is the most important forum in terms of ‘political consultations’ but that this in no way detracts from the value of bilateral discussions, which reflect nations’ individuality. Furthermore, with regard to the ‘political consultations’ held between the Six to establish a joint position at international level, the British Government believes that WEU represents a forum in which such political questions can be discussed with the United Kingdom.
On 30 March 1962, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the Council’s draft reply to Recommendation 69 of the WEU Assembly on the state of European security. Paragraphs 1, 3, 9 and 10 have been drafted by the United Kingdom delegation, France has prepared paragraph 4 and the Secretariat paragraphs 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8. The document covers relations and cooperation between WEU and the Atlantic Alliance in the field of defence and in the production and control of armaments.
In April 1962, following the United Kingdom’s application for accession to the European Communities, British Labour MP Fred W. Mulley speculates on the future and role of Western European Union in an article for the French monthly newspaper Le Monde diplomatique.
The Secretary-General circulates a note containing the text of the address given by Edward Heath, Chairman in Office of the Council of Western European Union (WEU), during the eighth session (first part) of the WEU Assembly on 5 June 1962. As he presents the Seventh Annual Report of the Council, Heath emphasises the utility of the political consultations within WEU for the establishment of closer relations between the United Kingdom and the European Communities. As the representative of the British Government, Heath also confirms that his country wishes to play its full part in the development of the political structure of the European Community, which will be strengthened by British accession.
On 7 June 1962, Harold Watkinson, British Minister of Defence, gives an address to the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU). He discusses the question of defence outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and particularly emphasises how important it is for the United Kingdom to strike a balance between its commitments outside Europe and its responsibilities within WEU and NATO.
On 30 April 1963, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the draft reply prepared by the United Kingdom delegation to Assembly Recommendation 83 on the state of European security and a NATO nuclear force. The draft focuses on the possible establishment of a nuclear force for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), composed of existing forces from elements of the British and United States strategic forces and new arms from the forces of the Atlantic Alliance. The draft reply emphasises that these matters are under discussion in the North Atlantic Council.
On 10 January 1964, John Barnes, Head of the Western Organisations Department of the Foreign Office, sends a note to Frank Stanley Tomlinson, Minister on the United Kingdom Permanent Delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in which he outlines the British position on the German proposal to use NATO document MC 26/4 on force requirements for 1966, as a basis for revised Western European Union (WEU) force levels, thus enabling the Federal Republic of Germany to meet agreed NATO requirements. The note shows the British Government concerns to accept MC 26/4, which is only a planning document that has never received the full approval of the North Atlantic Council and about which a number of countries entertain reservations. The Foreign Office proposes to postpone any decision on the subject for a further year in order to reach a more satisfactory agreement.
On 30 September 1964, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the draft reply by the United Kingdom delegation to the WEU Council concerning Recommendation 104. The text emphasises that the Council shares the Assembly’s view on the importance of improving the consultation process within WEU.
On 17 November 1965, concerned at the growing divergence between the foreign policies of the Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU) adopts Recommendation 126 on the political future of NATO. It particularly asks the WEU Council to urge the member governments of the organisation to strengthen an integrated defence system to uphold confidence in the deterrent.
On 7 February 1966, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the draft reply by the United Kingdom delegation to the WEU Council to Recommendation 126. The draft reply suggests that work on the integrated defence management process should be continued with a view to creating a more effective deterrent. It also calls for political consultations on world affairs to be developed within the Atlantic Alliance.
On 25 February 1966, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a draft reply by the French delegation to Assembly Recommendation 126 on the political future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The text emphasises that the Council agrees that security in the area covered by NATO depends to a large extent on close cooperation between the Allied powers in both political and military spheres. The reply to Recommendation 126 is adopted by the Council on 9 March, as shown by document C (66) 33.
On 9 March 1966, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) presents the final version of the Council’s reply to Recommendation 126 on the political future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The Council adopts the text proposed by the French delegation in document C (66) 22.
In this interview excerpt, Francis Gutmann, an official in the French Foreign Ministry from 1951 to 1957 and Secretary-General of the External Relations Ministry from 1981 to 1985, describes France’s position on the relationship between Western European Union (WEU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) with regard to major defence issues. He emphasises France’s desire to strengthen WEU in order to provide a framework for European defence and mentions the organisation’s role in the area of armaments, particularly from an industrial viewpoint.
On 7 and 11 May 1955, the first Council of Foreign Ministers of the Member States of Western European Union (WEU) is held in Paris. Simultaneously, the North Atlantic Council meets in ministerial session at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris to give official recognition to the Federal Republic of Germany’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
On 7 May 1955, the first meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU) is held at the British Embassy in Paris. Harold Macmillan, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and chairman of the meeting, expresses his hopes for the new Union. His French counterpart, Antoine Pinay, welcomes the accession of Western Germany and Italy to the organisation and emphasises the importance of the undertaking by the United Kingdom to maintain troops on the European continent and to delegate some powers to an international organisation for the first time. The minutes of the meeting outline the appointments to the posts of President of the WEU Council, Secretary-General, Deputy Secretaries-General and Director of the Agency for the Control of Armaments (ACA), and summarise the discussions on the approval of the draft decision for the establishment of a Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) and the organisation of the WEU Assembly.
On 26 June 1956, a joint meeting is held between the Council of Western European Union (WEU) and the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments. The first point raised concerns the differences of opinion as to the powers of the Assembly, and even those of the Council. A British member of the committee, Sir James Hutchison, refers to the legal basis that justifies the fact that the Assembly needs sufficient information to carry out its role in keeping the public informed. He also emphasises that Western defence is indivisible and that it is therefore reasonable to ask for information from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). British Assembly member Wynn Hugh-Jones agrees with James Hutchison and notes that if difficulties arise because of objections from non-WEU members of NATO, the whole system should be reassessed or the Assembly should even be disbanded. Sir Harold Caccia finally replies that it is not a question of good or bad will on the part of the Council; it is merely a question of identifying WEU’s proper function. The second part of the session focuses on replies to the committee’s questions.
On 17 July 1956, the Working Party meets to discuss the French proposal on the plans for the units of the forces of the seven powers of Western European Union (WEU) which are under command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), as set out in document C(56)114. The representative of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Ulrich Sahm, mentions the points raised by his government on the French proposal, including the fact that the decision concerning any increase in the level of forces must be taken unanimously by the seven High Contracting Parties, who must also decide whether the decision should be taken within WEU or NATO. The FRG Government would prefer the decision to be taken within NATO since it is related to defence policy, which comes within the remit of NATO. French representative Francis Huré, on the other hand, believes that WEU is the organisation responsible for taking any final political decisions and that only the technical aspects should be left to NATO. British representative Lord Samuel Hood considers that the permanent representatives should be in a position to examine the technical and political aspects but that they should report to the WEU Council as well as to their governments, since in the event of a disagreement, the final decision would have to be taken by the WEU Council of Ministers.
On 4 September 1956, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) meets for a special session on the development of the Suez Crisis. British representative Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick outlines the reasons that led his government, in close consultation with the French Government, to convene this meeting, emphasising the strong spirit of alliance within WEU. Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick justifies the urgency of the intervention in the Suez Canal area, maintaining that a refusal to act would result in the total removal of any Western influence on the ‘Arabian continent’. The French Ambassador to London, Jean Chauvel, reaffirms his government’s conclusions, which are completely identical in all respects to those of the British Government on the settlement of the current crisis. He outlines the considerations on which the French Government has based its approach and stresses the fact that the two countries are taking the matter extremely seriously.
The Council of Ministers of Western European Union (WEU) meets at the Quai d'Orsay on 10 December 1956, on the eve of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council. From left to right, during the meeting in the Clock Room: Christian Pineau (France), Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium), Walter Hallstein (German State Secretary for Foreign Affairs) and Heinrich von Brentano (Federal Republic of Germany) and, in the chairman's seat, Joseph Luns (Netherlands).
On 26 February 1957, the Council of Ministers of Western European Union (WEU) meets in London. The meeting is chaired by Selwyn Lloyd, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The agenda includes the latest developments in the United Nations talks on disarmament, in which some of the WEU Member States are taking part. The photo shows Peter Fraser, Assistant to the WEU Secretary-General, Louis Goffin, WEU Secretary-General, Selwyn Lloyd, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Lord Hood, British diplomat and representative on the WEU Council.
On 11 April 1957, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) of Western European Union (WEU) meets to discuss various questions, particularly the multilateralisation of bilateral contacts and discussions, the measures that should be taken to avoid any conflict with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the area of studies and research and, finally, consultations within the Finabel (France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg).
On 2 July 1957, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) meets to reply to the questions put by the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions. French Ambassador Jean Chauvel notes that, unless there is a change in the allocation of responsibilities, the Council is not in a position to reply to questions on overall strategy because, since 1950, WEU has no longer been responsible for planning defence policy and organising common defence, these tasks having been transferred to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The best approach is to address the various questions in the most appropriate framework. The Chairman of the Council, Louis Goffin, adds that this means that the Council no longer receives information about the implementation of defence obligations for each Member State and is therefore unable to give information to the Assembly; he also points out that NATO is not subject to parliamentary control. The other questions focus on the reorganisation of the Member States’ land forces for security in Western Europe and the ‘British strategic outlook’.
The extract from minutes of the 98th meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU) on 30 October 1957 describes the tense relationship between the WEU Assembly and the WEU Council and mentions the debates on the idea of a European defence policy. The representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany (Hans von Herwarth and Heinrich von Brentano), France (Jean Chauvel) and the United Kingdom (Sir Anthony Rumbold) contribute to the discussion and propose solutions to improve the relationship between the Assembly and the Council. On the idea of a European defence policy, despite a few differences of opinion regarding various details, the members of the WEU Council believe that such a policy should not be limited to the WEU Member States.
At its meeting on 12 February 1958, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) analyses the cooperation between France, Germany and Italy in the field of arms production, which could be extended to all types of armaments and weapons systems covered by the policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The WEU and NATO Armaments Committees will be informed of the armaments selected by the three countries so that other states can be involved in this cooperation.
On 21 February 1958, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a note on relations between WEU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The note examines the level of forces under national command and under NATO command, raises the question on armaments controls and specifies the relations between the two organisations as regards the Standing Armaments Committee. It also highlights the cooperation by the Alliance in providing the WEU Assembly with information on defence matters.
The Secretary-General circulates the text of a communication to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) on a decision taken by the Council of Western European Union (WEU) at its meeting in Rome on 5 March 1958. The representatives of the WEU Member States on the North Atlantic Council will invite NATO to use the expertise and services of the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC), in particular for the production of modern weapons. As members of both organisations, the main aim of these states is to further the common cause of the Atlantic Alliance.
On 6 March 1958, in Rome, a joint meeting is held between the Council of Western European Union (WEU) and the Defence Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly to discuss various subjects including WEU’s contribution to the armaments production of the Atlantic Alliance. Chairman Giuseppe Pella notes that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is kept informed of the activities of the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) and of possibilities for cooperation through the presence of NATO observers at meetings. A series of questions is raised about cooperation between France, Germany and Italy in the field of armaments research, development and production. A statement by those three countries indicates that this cooperation complies with NATO principles and that other countries are free to be involved. The Council is also keen to ensure that countries are informed of bilateral and tripartite agreements, particularly within the SAC, by making information available to NATO.
In a note dated 31 October 1958, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the text of his letter to the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), together with the text of the questions put to the Council by the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments concerning the maintenance of British forces on the european continent, the draft replies from the Council to questions 1, 2 and 6, and the final reply to Recommendation 23. In this final reply, the Council notes that its only powers on the matter of the financial contributions of Member States to the common defence derive from Article VI of Protocol No II to the Paris Agreements, and that it could not encroach on the role of the North Atlantic Council in considering the contribution made by each Member State of the Atlantic Alliance.
At its meeting on 9 December 1959, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) addresses questions concerning the political consultations within the organisation and relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). British representative Sir Anthony Rumbold reiterates the position he adopted at the previous meeting (document CR(59)17) and confirms that, in terms of political consultations, NATO should remain the main forum for any joint action and for matters of common concern. But he admits that WEU could also have a part to play. French Ambassador Jean Chauvel notes that it is too early to predict how consultations between the Six and the Seven of WEU will develop but that the aim should be to avoid repeating the same information in three different places — NATO, the European Economic Community (EEC) and WEU — without diminishing the importance of NATO.
At the meeting of the Standing Armaments Committee (SAC) of Western European Union (WEU), which is held in Paris on 10 December 1959, the representatives consider the ongoing work on the tactical medium-range surface-to-surface missile. The Head of the SAC’s International Secretariat, Pierre Brisac, is considering the possibility of cooperation between the Secretariat and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in the area of intelligence. British representative Vernon Bovenizer sets out his government’s position and argues that it would be a good idea to transfer work on the medium-range surface-to-surface missile project to the NATO armaments committee, firstly because the United States have expressed an interest in the project and they are not a member of WEU, and secondly because the United Kingdom believes that cooperation with the US on the question of nuclear warheads is essential. The aim of this transfer would be to avoid duplication of effort and to gain time. German representative Colonel Freygang says that he is in agreement with this transfer. The French representative, Engineer-General Gérard Louis Devenne, states that he will not oppose the plan, although he has not received any instructions to promote it. The arguments put forward by the United Kingdom are convincing, but it is imperative to reach agreement on the military characteristics first. Finally, General Brisac reports on his hearing with the WEU Council on 9 November, raising the matter of relations between the SAC and the NATO bodies. On the question of exchanges of information, he notes that while the SAC may openly exchange information, this is not entirely the case for NATO: the SAC is only informed of NATO’s activities on an unofficial basis. It is agreed that a request will be made to improve the procedure.
On 4 February 1960, the ministers in the Council of Western European Union (WEU) meet to discuss the political dimension of WEU’s activities. The British Foreign Secretary John Selwyn Lloyd raises questions on subjects including the future of WEU’s role and relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). He emphasises that NATO is the appropriate forum for taking decisions on common action and that WEU’s political role should be limited to discussing questions of mutual interest. He sees WEU as a sort of ‘cement’ designed to prevent any divisions occurring between its Member States. French Ambassador Chauvel then reaffirms that his country will continue to pursue a twofold aim — the establishment of a European customs union and European security — with WEU playing a role in strengthening European solidarity.
On 4 February 1960, a meeting of the Council of Ministers of Western European Union (WEU) is held in London. Jean Chauvel (on the left), French Ambassador to London since 1 February 1955, is a member of the French delegation attending the meeting. Jean Chauvel serves as Ambassador to London until 16 March 1962, when he is replaced by Geoffroy Chodron de Courcel.
On 4 February 1960, the Council of Ministers of Western European Union (WEU) meets for a further working session in London. Items on the agenda include WEU’s activities and relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Selwyn Lloyd (on the left), British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and a member of the British delegation, participates in the Council’s work.
On 4 February 1960, the Council of Western European Union (WEU) meets at ministerial level in London. Discussions focus on the political dimension of WEU’s activities and particularly on WEU’s relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
In a note dated 19 October 1960, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates a draft introductory statement proposed by the French delegation for the joint meeting of the Council and the Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments. The Council starts by explaining the reasons why some of the replies given to the Assembly are sometimes unsatisfactory, referring to the nature of WEU’s powers in the military field. The Council’s powers are limited to the level of forces of the Member States, the maintenance of British forces on the European continent, the control of armaments and some aspects of arms standardisation. Within the scope of its powers, the Council keeps the Assembly informed through its Annual Report (Article IX) and provides additional information to the committees. A procedure has also been developed with NATO for obtaining required information but this is subject to certain rules including the confidentiality of classified subjects. The Council concludes by pointing out that questions should be sent to the Council sufficiently early for this procedure to follow its course.
On 4 May 1962, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the Council’s reply to Assembly Recommendation 69 on the state of European security. The Council’s reply focuses on the various aspects covered by the Recommendation, namely the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to strengthen its defence capability as long as no real disarmament has taken place and the importance of achieving a balance between conventional and nuclear forces to guarantee the greatest possible flexibility in responding to Soviet aggression. When forwarding the Recommendation to NATO, the Council drew its attention to the need to give greater authority to allied commanders in the deployment of land forces assigned to NATO. The Council’s reply also focuses on international cooperation for joint arms research and production, a field in which the WEU Member States play an important role. The Council also refers to the provision of information by NATO to the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions and Armaments, mentioning the procedure agreed between the two organisations in 1958. The Council intends to ask NATO to adopt as liberal an approach as possible in the provision of information.
On 27 September 1962, in Brussels, the 10th joint meeting is held between the Council of Western European Union (WEU) and the Assembly Committee on Defence Questions. The questions focus on the debate concerning the possibility and legitimacy of establishing a future political union. On the matter of the future reorganisation of Western defence, this depends on the type of political union that might be created. The chairman also notes that the Council is not able to form an opinion on this question since it is under constant development.
On 6 June 1962, the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU) adopts Recommendation 77 on the future organisation of western defence on the executive and parliamentary levels. The Assembly considers that any defence bodies that may be created as part of a European political union must be within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It also suggests the etablishment of a Ministerial Defence Committee.
On 31 October 1962, the minutes of the conclusions of the 212th meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU) outline the discussions held in the Council on the WEU Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation 77, which concerns the future organisation of Western defence on the executive and parliamentary levels, and confirm the French request for an amendment, which is taken into account for the drafting of document C (62) 151.
On 15 November 1962, the Secretary-General of Western European Union (WEU) circulates the final reply by the Council to Recommendation 77 by the WEU Parliamentary Assembly on the future organisation of Western defence on the executive and parliamentary levels. The Council shares the Assembly’s opinion that any future European defence body would contribute to the strengthening of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but it believes that it would be unwise at present to make any predictions about a future political union. The Council has also communicated the Recommendation to the North Atlantic Council.
This extract from minutes of the 224th meeting of the Council of Western European Union (WEU), meeting on 2 May 1963, communicates the decision taken by the Council concerning Recommendation 83 on the state of European security and a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) nuclear force. Since this is a delicate and complicated matter, the Council informs the Assembly that the Recommendation has been transmitted to NATO. The Chairman of the WEU Council also notes that a draft reply by the United Kingdom delegation has been circulated as WPM (315).
On 12 March 1965, the French daily newspaper Le Monde reports on the climate of disillusionment which prevailed during the debates on European defence issues held in the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU).
On 25 October 1979, as Western European Union (WEU) marks its 25th anniversary, the French daily newspaper Le Monde regrets the missed opportunity for Europeans to provide Europe with its own defence, and speculates on the possibility of a revitalisation of WEU.
On 7 October 1981, an informal meeting of the Permanent Council of Western European Union (WEU) is held at the British Foreign Office. London hopes that an informal meeting might lead to freer discussion on the future of WEU than in formal Council meetings. Sir Ewen Alastair John Fergusson, British diplomat explains that over the last four years, questions have been raised by both Labour and Conservative administrations on the continuing value of WEU and renewed calls have been made for financial economies. While recognising that WEU has greater importance in some Member States than in others, the UK sees WEU as continuing to have a primarily symbolic value. The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the UK’s proposal to reduce the budget of the WEU ministerial bodies by 15 % over the next three years. The French delegation stresses that there exists a particular bond between the Member States of WEU, which represents an important element of European firmness and resolution vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. Any reduction in the Budget would be seen as a weakening of our resolve. According to the French representative the mutual defence commitments and the degree of automaticity expressed by WEU go much further than in the NATO Treaty.
On 30 March 1982, the French Embassy in London analyses an editorial in the Times of 16 March on the United Kingdom’s attitude to the French initiative to relaunch Western European Union (WEU) with a view to developing a European defence policy. The Embassy concludes that, for the British, only the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) provides the consultative forum that is required for European defence, with the possible exception of the 10-Member-State European Community via the medium of the European Council and the Genscher-Colombo Plan. A British shift in favour of an independent European defence system therefore appears unlikely.