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Western European Union

The EC had also taken steps during the first post-Cold War years to enhance its competence in foreign affairs. In the Treaty on European Union, signed on February 7, 1992, in Maastricht, representatives of the EC's twelve members agreed to take steps toward developing a common European foreign and defense policy. The treaty (commonly referred to as the Maastricht Treaty) stipulated that the European Council, composed of the heads of state and government in the member states, would decide together on guidelines that would frame a common foreign and security policy. The council would also monitor the implementation of policies agreed upon. In conjunction with this diplomatic consensus, it was agreed that the Western European Union (WEU), after decades of relative dormancy, would become the primary instrument with which the continent would enhance its own defense capability.

Some European proponents suggested that the WEU could act as a complement to NATO by serving in capacities in which NATO would not. The WEU, for example, recognized no formal geographic limits to its potential operations. Those in the United States critical of moves to revive the WEU, however, suggested that a European defense structure was redundant and could evolve as a competitor for NATO resources and personnel. Italy and Britain proposed that the WEU become an arm of NATO, rather than an independent European security structure. NATO formally supported the process toward a European defense identity but emphasized that the Atlantic Alliance should remain the primary forum for the discussion of European security issues.

In Germany's view, the WEU, as the defense arm of the EU, would complement NATO. The December 1991 EC summit in Maastricht declared that the WEU would serve as an instrument of European defense and as such would have the effect of strengthening the European pillar of NATO.

Members of the WEU, meeting in Bonn on November 18, 1991, had issued a communiqué expressing a desire for enhanced dialogue with the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and the Soviet Union. This represented a parallel step to that which NATO had already taken through creation of the NACC. The Bonn communiqué announced that foreign and defense ministers from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania would be invited to take part in special meetings with members of the WEU Council and would be invited to participate in WEU-organized seminars in various European countries. The WEU also committed itself to creating a fact-finding mission to the former Soviet republics to further investigate meaningful ways in which security dialogue could be fostered.

The Petersberg Declaration of June 1992 empowered the WEU member states with significant room for maneuver. Germany's new minister of foreign affairs, Klaus Kinkel, and Minister of Defense Rühe endorsed the WEU's intention not only to maintain peace but also to enforce it if necessary, even in areas outside the Alliance.

Europe's development of a common foreign and defense policy and its establishment of a mature wing of the Western Alliance that would act as a complement to NATO underscored the development of Europe as a new world power center. Some suggested that united Europe should receive a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. They noted that a united Europe would have more inhabitants than the United States and Japan combined and its gross national product (GNP--see Glossary) would be larger than that of the United States.


Germany remained determined to pursue a multitracked approach in the development of its foreign and defense policies. The Germans firmly rejected subordination of European integration to other priorities that would, among other things in the German view, endanger the mutually important relationship that Bonn and Paris had carefully cultivated since the end of World War II.

West Germany's first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer (1949-63), together with French president Charles de Gaulle, had worked assiduously to dismantle the historical enmity between their two countries and to lay the foundation for German-French reconciliation after World War II (see Rearmament and the European Defense Community, ch. 2). West Germany had become France's most important trading partner by the 1980s (accounting for 40 percent of French trade), and the 1983 revival of the defense clauses in the German-French Friendship Treaty (Élysée Treaty) of 1963 had allowed a deepening of the two countries' military ties. Thus on October 16, 1991, Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterrand first announced a plan proposing that the WEU become the EC's defense arm and that a Franco-German Eurocorps (based on an already existing brigade) serve as the core of a new European army.

The decision by Kohl's government to develop a Franco-German Eurocorps was to be seen in this context (Germany and France had also been frustrated by the British domination of NATO's rapid reaction force established in 1991). The Eurocorps not only would provide the basis for a European force but also, on a political level, would assuage French (and broader European) concerns about a return to German unilateralism in foreign and defense policy. It had been French policy since the end of World War II to oppose any move by the Federal Republic perceived as leading to the establishment of a German national foreign and defense policy.

In the face of criticism from the NATO establishment, the Germans argued that the Eurocorps would have the positive effect of drawing the French closer to the Atlantic Alliance. French troops belonging to the joint military corps could be made available to NATO, either as rapid deployment forces or as main defense forces, the Germans argued. Skeptics--the Dutch, for instance--contended, on the contrary, that the Eurocorps would actually decrease the number of French and German troops available to NATO. Although Germans claimed that the joint military corps would intensify French links to NATO, it was also undoubtedly true that the collaborative step was viewed as an altogether different opportunity by the French defense establishment, long dominated by elements favoring an independent European security identity.

It was not exclusively in France, although perhaps most prominently, that some strategic thinkers sought to "Europeanize" the continent's defense by seeing to it that certain NATO functions were delegated to the EC or the WEU. Not surprisingly, Bonn's moves to help develop the Eurocorps provoked concern and in some circles irritation among NATO advocates both in the United States and in Europe. The Netherlands, Britain, and Denmark all expressed various degrees of reservation or opposition to the corps. Britain and the Netherlands in particular were reluctant to accept the premise that a European defense could be dominated by the French and the Germans. Spain, Belgium, and Luxembourg, however, welcomed the German-French initiative to form a joint military corps, and eventually all these countries pledged troops to it.

The Eurocorps was formally proposed by Chancellor Kohl and President Mitterrand in May 1992. Both leaders invited all members of the WEU to participate. The headquarters for the corps was established in Strasbourg in July 1992, and the corps was scheduled to become operational by late 1995. At the time of its inception, the corps was to have three military functions: to join and assist NATO missions; to fulfill missions under WEU command outside traditional NATO territory; and to provide international humanitarian assistance.

Germans balanced their push for European security structures in the early 1990s by repeatedly stressing their commitment to NATO. NATO remained central to German foreign and defense policies because of the organization's institutional ties to the United States, a fact that caused unrest in the French foreign policy establishment and among like-minded thinkers in Germany, who sought evolution away from an alliance dominated by the United States. A middle ground was sought by some defense experts who, like Bundeswehr General Inspekteur Klaus Naumann, contended that a "more European NATO" would appropriately bring balance to the previously United States-dominated defense organization.

Data as of August 1995

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