Western European Union

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Western European Union (WEU). This international security organization was initiated on 6 May 1955 when the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy joined the existing Brussels Treaty Organization. This was a consequence of the refusal of the French National Assembly to ratify the European Defence Community plan (EDC). The collapse of the plan was in part due to the British government's refusal to take part in supranational (as opposed to intergovernmental) security organizations, and the emergence of the WEU can be seen as a fulfilment of British goals. The pledge made by Britain to maintain troops in Europe in peacetime was a major innovation in foreign policy.

NATO remained the primary West European security organization, but from 1958 to 1973 the WEU structure allowed the British government to consult with the six WEU states that had formed the EEC without involving other NATO members. Following British accession to the EEC, ministerial meetings of the WEU ceased. The organization was reactivated from 1984 to strengthen European influence within NATO and to promote EC foreign policy co-ordination (European Political Cooperation, EPC). Britain was among the states that prevented the integration of WEU into the European Union's supranational structure, instead confirming it as an intergovernmental institution in the Maastricht treaty. The WEU played a prominent role in the Bosnian crisis in the 1990s.

Christopher N. Lanigan

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Western European Union (WEU) Defence alliance consisting of most of the European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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Western European Union