History of European Defence and Forerunners to the cfsp

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History of European Defence


Forerunners to the CFSP
Christine Stark

Visiting Lecturer

University of Westminster
February 2001


  • Post-WWII European security issues: Cold War; NATO & Warsaw Pact; changes in the 1980s

  • European security in the post-Cold War: demise of the Cold War; democratization of Eastern Europe & consequences; WEU, NATO & European defence & foreign policy' in the 1990s.

History of European Defence & forerunners to CFSP

1945 United Nations established by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation & collective security

1945 After WWII: process of establishing 2 blocs (Soviet Union SU – US). Cold War started:

  • describes political & economic struggle between capitalist, democratic Western powers & communist Soviet Union (& later other Communist nations) after Allied WW II victory.

  • Period marked by massive military buildups (including nuclear weaponry) by both sides & by intensive economic competition & strained, hostile diplomatic relations

  • Strong Western Europe necessary to counter Soviet Union

1948 First European organization of post-war period:

OEEC – Organization for European Economic Cooperation – US initiative to rebuild western European eonomies with US help - Marshall Plan

OEEC in 1960: US & Canada became members, changed into OECD – Organisation for European Cooperation & Development. New aim: promote economic progress in III World through development aid

1948 Brussels Treaty or Brussels Pact, signed by Benelux, France, UK.

Specific European initiative on mutual defence.

Aim: deterring German revanchism, pact should be seen as contributing towards polarization of Europe into Cold War confrontation zones.

Can be seen as forerunner to NATO. European states were signalling to US superpower perception that European security questions central to post-1945 system

1949 NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization signed in Washington by Benelux, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, UK, USA. (Greece & Turkey 1952, Germany 1955, Spain 1982, Czech Republic, Hungary & Poland 1999)

  • International Organisation

  • Military alliance, defensive arrangement

  • Represents group of like-minded states with similar political & economic system

  • Rational: Cold War & policy of containment of Soviet power & influence in Europe

  • Proximate cause: Berlin Crisis of 1948-9 & perception among UK & French leaders that some antidote to conventional military capability of SU was needed if Western Europe was to avoid Soviet coercion or worse in deteriorating relations after 45

  • Based on idea of deterrence

1951 ECSC - European Coal & Steal Community – 1.step to European Economic Integration
1950s (beginning) Background: cold war & hostilities in Korea

  • Western powers, led by USA, envisaged rearmament of FR Germany to meet growing Soviet threat.

  • But prospect of German army 5 years after WW II end worried European public opinion.

  • In order to permit rearmament of West Germany without restoring spectre of armed Germany, European Defence Community (EDC) project invented: creation of common European army. Such military Europe in formation would have to be accompanied by political guidance. Therefore, EDC supplemented by project to create European Political Community (with establishment of federal-type political institutions).

1952 Pleven Plan – Treaty establishing European Defence Community EDC signed in Paris
1954 French Parliament rejects the EDC Treaty - French defeated their own proposal

1954 WEU - Background:

  • With NATO need for separate Brussels Treaty organization ended,

  • 1950 Consultative Council of Brussels Treaty states agreed that organisation’s defence functions should be subsumed into NATO

  • This situation obtained until interest in specific European intitiative on defence revived

  • Following collapse of EDC, Brussels Treaty powers invited Italy & Federal Germany to join by signing protocol to 1948 Treaty & establishing WEU as result

  • However, WEU was seen as European pillar of NATO (particularly by British elite)

  • WEU played secondary role to NATO until Iran-Iraq conflict in ‘80s

  • Acting independently of NATO, WEU sent ships to Middle East in order to protect oil tankers in the region. This action would prove to be first step in modern rise of importance of WEU in European defence.

1955 Germany joint NATO

1955 Warsaw Pact

  • Multilateral treaty between Soviet Union & Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania

  • Direct response to expansion of NATO with inclusion of FR Germany

  • Pact was political statement of bloc solidarity rather than system of collective defence

  • 1956 Warsaw Pact member states admitted East Germany to the Joint Command & sanctioned the transformation of East Germany's Garrisoned People's Police into a full-fledged army

  • But the Soviet Union took no steps to integrate the allied armies into a multinational force

  • Dissolution in 1991 – following events in 1989 – fall of Berlin wall

1957 EEC – European Economic Community, Euratom – European Atomic Energy Community

further economic integration

1961 Fouchet Plans (1961-1962): 3 years after EEC & Euratom desire to begin political construction. "Treaty on the Union of States":

  • inter-State cooperation was to lead to a unified foreign policy

  • strengthening of Member States' security from any aggression & coordination of defence policies

  • In the long term, Treaty on Union of States was to encompass European Communities

France's initiatives were rejected:

  • desire to preserve European Communities from a form of cooperation deemed excessively inter-State &

  • desire to preserve defence link with US & NATO

1970 European Political Cooperation EPC (1970-1993):

  • "Davignon" Report - marks beginning of EPC

  • ECP related exclusively to foreign policy & its purpose was to ensure mutual understanding & to strengthen Member States' solidarity on major international policy problems through meetings between their diplomatic services

1972 Conference on Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

  • International organization established to promote East-West cooperation

  • 1975 Helsinki conference led to accords on Human rights & European security issues

  • CSCE responsible for reviewing implementation of those accords

  • Since end of cold war: also aims to foster peace, prosperity, & justice in Europe

  • 55 participating States from Europe, Central Asia & North America

1974 EC’s Headsof State/Governments decision: European Council

More meetings to seek common approaches & to implement concerted diplomacy

1975 Final Act of Conference on Security & Cooperation in Europe signed in Helsinki, 35 States (OSCE).

1975 Leo Tindeman’s report on political union.

  • Suggested potential improvements to Council, including enhanced coherence, recourse to majority voting, & strengthening of continuity.

  • Aimed at speeding up decision-making process & blocking national veto

  • Council received Tindeman’s Report, but worsening economic conditions combined with British referendum on remaining in EC became Council's focus

  • Result: report set aside & few of its recommendations adopted

  • Question of majority voting, however, was not directly addressed

1983 Stuttgart European Council - new step:

  • Political & economic (not military) aspects of security were included in scope of EPC.

  • 1970 to 1986: informal agreements without permanent structures to harmonize, in the margins of EC, Western European diplomacy

1986 Single European Act (SEA)

  • Reformed EC

  • Made provision for establishment of large common market for 1992

  • Gave formal recognition to European Council & to procedures under EPC

  • For 1. time it explicitly sought to introduce consistency into foreign policies of EC member states

  • "EPC" Secretariat was established

  • But SEA does not refer to "common foreign policy" &

  • Divide between activities of Communities & those of EPC still looms large

1989 Fall of Berlin Wall
1990 German reunification
1991 Dissolution of Warsaw Pact
1991 Treaty on European Union (TEU)

  • Established CFSP (2d pillard) (Art. 11 – 28 TEU)

  • which shall include all questions related to security of EU, including progressive framing of common defence policy, which might lead to common defence

  • Art. 17: WEU integral part of development providing EU with access to operational capability

  • It supports EU in framing defence aspects of CFSP

  • EU shall foster closer institutional relations with WEU with view to possibility of integration of WEU into EU

  • EU policy shall not prejudice specific character of security & defence policy of certain Member States

  • It shall respect obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in NATO & be compatible with common security & defence policy established within that framework

1997 Amsterdam Treaty further strengthened bonds between WEU & EU

  • Reaffirms to build up WEU in stages as EU defence component

  • EU adopted WEU’s “Petersberg Tasks” into EU treaty

  • These tasks are the 3 purposes, other than mutual defence, of WEU:

  • 1. Humanitarian & rescue/evacuation tasks

  • 2. Peacekeeping tasks

  • 3. Tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including missions to restore peace / peacemaking

  • These tasks have now become center-piece of EU’s CFSP

  • In the 9 years since EU produced the concrete origins of CFSP, fruition of plans for European army seems imminent

  • EU wishes to have enough troops available by 2003 to fulfill Petersberg Tasks & ability to support those troops for 12 months

  • CFSP continues to develop with it possibility for more advanced infrastructure & organisation

  • Thus far, specifics concerning European missile defence have yet to be discussed by EU policy makers

1999 12 March, Czech Republic, Hungary & Poland join NATO
2000 20 November, General Affairs Council – Defence:

  • Military Capabilities Commitment Conference

  • 1. stage of demanding process of reinforcing military capabilities for EU crisis management

  • Military Capabilities Commitment Declaration signed:

  • Voluntary Commitment of EU Member States to making national contributions corresponding to rapid reaction capabilities of existing European multinational forces to

  • Develop & introduce civil & military resources & capabilities required to fulfill Petersberg tasks

  • Develop autonomous capability to decide on & where NATO as whole is not engaged to launch & conduct EU-led military operations in response to international crisis

  • Does not involve establishment of European army

  • Greater contribution of EU to international security in keeping with principles of UN Charter, OSCE Charter & Helsinki Final act

  • Military capability catalogue for EU needs = Force Catalogue drawn up with help of NATO’s military expertise

  • Goal: by 2003, to deploy within 60 days & sustain for at least 1 year forces up to corps level (60,000 persons), constitute a pool of more than 100.000 persons & approx. 400 combat aircraft & 100 vessels. Based on analysis of Force Catalogue

  • Under authority of Council

2000 Dec, IGC 2000 ends – result: Treaty of Nice (EP must accept & Member States ratify it)

  • Rapid Reaction Force confirmed

  • Development of EU’s military capacity, creation of permanent political & military structures proved

  • (Art. 17 TEU) Provisions defining the relations between the EU & WEU have been removed

  • (Art 25 TEU) Creation of a Political & Security Committee (to monitor international situation) in order to manage a crisis & for the duration of that crisis

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