|WEU and European Defence: Beyond Amsterdam |
WEU and European Defence: Beyond Amsterdam
WEU Assembly Report n°1626 dated March 16, 1999. Report submitted on behalf of the Political Committee by Mr De Puig, President of the Assembly and Rapporteur. Table of Contents, Draft Recommendation on WEU and European defence: beyond Amsterdam and Explanatory Memorandum.
II. Progress in the debate on European security following the British Prime Minister's initiative
III. Assessment of the possible consequences of the new situation
IV. Making the most of the opportunity to achieve qualitative progress in terms of European security and defence
V. Margins within which institutional proposals can make ground
- Options currently under consideration
- The future of the modified Brussels Treaty
- WEU as an Organisation
- The associate countries
- The future of democratic scrutiny
- Preparation for Bremen and Cologne
- Franco-British summit Joint Declaration on European defence
- Draft Recommendation on WEU and European defence: beyond Amsterdam
- The Assembly,
Welcoming the resumption of debate, following the initiatives by France and the United Kingdom that led to the Saint-Malo process, on how a security and defence Europe might be achieved;
Welcoming the Rome Declaration of the WEU Ministerial Council meeting held under the Italian Presidency and the conclusions of the European Council summit in Vienna held under the Austrian Presidency;
Welcoming also both Italy's initiative in organising the first WEU/EU Forum in Rome to examine ways in which the two organisations can cooperate more closely and the Council's decision to initiate informal reflection in WEU on the question of Europe's security and defence;
Convinced that it is necessary to seize the opportunity offered by the various initiatives that are under way in order to make qualitative progress in that direction;
Stressing that European nations must show they are resolved to assume greater defence responsibilities and reduce their dependence on the United States;
Convinced that Europe can take on greater responsibilities in the interests of the Euro-Atlantic community as a whole only if the ESDI is developed outside as well as inside NATO;
Reaffirming its conviction that the European Union must be the fulcrum of an effective dimension in the field of European security and defence- such a dimension now having been largely achieved in the economic sphere and currently in the making in that of the CFSP;
Considering, nonetheless, that to create a defence dimension within the European Union demands a fundamental change in policy thinking on the part of some member states as to the nature and purpose of that Union;
Taking note of the point of view according to which European Union decisions on security and defence must be taken on an intergovernmental basis, while stressing from the outset that this cannot be done without making the appropriate arrangements for parliamentary democratic scrutiny;
Pointing out that any direct assumption of security and defence responsibilities by the European Union must not on any account be achieved by watering down European security or calling the European defence project into question, and must therefore respect WEU's achievements and the agreements that WEU has concluded with NATO and the European Union;
Noting that a transfer of powers of decision from WEU to the European Union could have the advantage of reducing the number of decision-making procedures required within the European institutions and thus make a positive contribution towards facilitating the emergence of a consensus and a common political resolve;
Supporting in consequence any proposal designed to give the European Union an autonomous capability for decision-making and action, provided that such proposal ensures that:
- all European commitments to collective defence and close cooperation with NATO are preserved;
- defence ministers are involved in the decision-making process, as is currently the position in WEU;
- the rights the WEU associate member and associate partner countries have acquired to participate in the Organisation and its Assembly are preserved in full;
- a policy on defence expenditure is worked out that is commensurate with the role Europe intends to assume as an independent and responsible player on the world stage;
- a common industrial armaments policy is developed on the basis of WEAG, WEAO and OCCAR achievements;
- there continues to be democratic scrutiny at European level, through a parliamentary assembly formed of delegations from the national parliaments of the countries concerned, such as is currently exercised by the WEU Assembly;
Stressing that if Europe is to have the desired ability to take decisions, provision for independent situation analysis, intelligence and planning capabilities is a necessity and does not constitute needless duplication of NATO assets;
Recalling that any decision on the part of the European Council with a view to achieving a common defence in the framework of the European Union implies amendment of the existing Treaties and must therefore - even if it can be taken without first convening an intergovernmental conference - be submitted to member parliaments for ratification, requiring careful preparation, in close consultation with the relevant parliamentary authorities;
Convinced therefore that, initially, it is possible and preferable to achieve the objectives set by the various initiatives and in particular those referred to at Saint-Malo, by reference to the existing Treaties and in particular by making greater use of the modified Brussels Treaty in the service of the European Union;
Persuaded nevertheless that it is for WEU to develop a strategy for achieving a security and defence Europe and envisage short-, medium- and long-term measures to be put to the European Council;
Convinced therefore that a concerted effort must now be made to identify areas where the existing Treaties require revision with a view to improving cooperation and encouraging greater convergence between WEU and the European Union and thus preparing for the integration of the two organisations and their Treaties;
Recalling in consequence the proposals contained in Recommendation 614 on Maastricht II, with particular regard to the plan for gradually integrating WEU into the European Union on the basis of the document submitted to the European Union, on 21 March 1997, by six of its member states;
Stressing in that context that, in a democratic Europe, the prerogatives of governments should be confined to the executive sphere and that all matters pertaining to arrangements for democratic scrutiny can be worked out and decided only with the full involvement and agreement of the relevant parliamentary authorities,
RECOMMENDS THAT THE COUNCIL
Support the Saint-Malo process by encouraging the European governments to complete their work so that the results can be presented at the ministerial meeting in Bremen and included in the European Council discussions in Cologne;
Contribute, in the context of short-term measures, to efforts to improve and strengthen Europe's autonomous decision-making capability by putting at the CFSP's disposal all the means the modified Brussels Treaty makes available, together with all WEU's achievements, and encouraging the CFSP to make full use thereof;
Accordingly assign the responsibility for action in the field of crisis management to the European Union, providing it with the necessary means in an effective and credible way, and to that end draw up the appropriate agreements on any legal and institutional adjustments;
Lay down the foundations, as of now, of a process designed to provide the European Union with a real, operational military capability and decision-making powers in the areas covered by WEU's remit;
Take steps to ensure that the European Union will maintain an intrinsically European operational capability, equal at least to that on which WEU can draw at present, without prejudice to the use of NATO assets or other means, and as a result, rule out any plan to incorporate WEU's military functions in NATO;
Make sure that the effect of any transfer of powers of decision or action to the institutional framework of the European Union does not preserve solely the military side of crisis management while letting collective defence fall by the wayside;
Accordingly develop a medium-term programme, for gradually bringing about the integration of all the areas covered by WEU's remit into the intergovernmental framework of the European Union:
- either in the form of a fourth pillar; or
- under the CFSP, as and when all the participant nations are ready for it, and as the CFSP matures;
Prepare a long-term plan for gradually achieving a true common defence under the aegis of the European Union, and propose to the European Council:
- that the necessary steps are taken, in that process, to secure the safeguard of all that can today be counted as EU, NATO and WEU achievements in this area;
- that the coordination, liaison and cooperation machinery presently used by NATO and WEU continue to be used between NATO and the new European institutional framework;
- that the mutual assistance clause enshrined in Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty become an integral part of the revised Treaty on European Union and not merely an option contained in a separate protocol;
- that it negotiate an agreement with WEU over those aspects of the modified Brussels Treaty, other than the mutual assistance clause and the NATO cooperation clause (Article IV), that are to be included in any revised Treaty on European Union; and
- that when WEU's powers are transferred to the European Union, the latter guarantee that the WEU associate member and partner countries will continue to enjoy the rights of participation they currently have in WEU;
Guarantee that until such time as any final decision is reached on the arrangements for the democratic scrutiny of European defence activities, the WEU Assembly can continue to carry out that function;
Support all initiatives by the Assembly to convene a parliamentary conference with a view to drafting proposals on arrangements for the democratic scrutiny of security and defence Europe.
Explanatory Memorandum submitted by Mr de Puig, President of the Assembly and Rapporteur
The debate on the creation of a Defence Europe has been reopened, before the Amsterdam Treaty has even taken effect, and at the heart of that debate, once again, lies the future of WEU. The French President, Mr Chirac, was the first to advocate, in a speech delivered at the end of August 1998, that WEU's future should be decided after NATO's Washington Summit, possibly at a WEU summit held back-to-back with a European Council meeting. He proposed at that juncture that, when the time was ripe, a Council of European Defence Ministers should be set up. WEU's future role would be that of European Union Defence Agency and the Organisation would be gradually integrated into the institutions of the Union.
A short time after, the British Government launched an initiative that sought to ensure the European Union had a military capability to draw on. This represented a fundamental change as compared with the stance taken by its predecessor. The Blair Government's change of thinking on European defence was based on a confidential paper a senior UK Foreign Office official, Robert Cooper, was asked to draft in May 1998, with a view to assessing the potential future for Britain in Europe. According to press reports, a key recommendation was "using British military assets to develop a European capacity to act independently in the defence field. As defined by the Cabinet Office this means dropping WEU and building a European defence capacity within NATO". An article by Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform, published on 9 September 1998 and entitled "Can Britain lead in Europe?" provides an illustration of how such an initiative might be implemented. Here, the author puts forward the view that the situation "post-Amsterdam" offered Britain an opportunity to increase its influence in Europe, noting that:
"In the spring of 1998 Mr Blair began to talk of Britain taking a lead on European defence. He may have realised that, if the British could appear to be better Europeans in this area, they might win considerable credit with their partners and that, in the strange world of EU politics, it is possible to buy good will by making concessions that are more symbolic than substantial".
Grant feels in this connection that "what Britain needs to do is find ways of strengthening European defence without damaging NATO or upsetting the Americans". Given that context he suggests, inter alia, that: "Britain should propose abolishing WEU. Its political function would merge with the European Union, becoming a ‘fourth pillar'... Its military functions would be subsumed into NATO. Article V of the WEU Treaty, obliging members to defend each other from attack, and enforceable only through NATO, would be transferred to the fourth pillar... European defence ministers should meet as an EU Council. They could instruct NATO's European forces to take part in EU military missions".
The author considers that "these reforms, by finally settling the question of Europe's defence identity, should convince everyone that NATO has a future as Europe's only functioning military organisation". Nevertheless, "some Americans do have reservations about this scheme, for it would inevitably lead to a European caucus within NATO". But, again according to Grant, "... top Pentagon officials believe that a European caucus within NATO is a price worth paying for a scheme which offers the prospect of a more coherent European CFSP, and of a stronger and longer-lasting NATO" .
It was at an informal meeting of the European Council on 24 and 25 October 1998 at Pörtschach, Austria, that Mr Blair made his statement on the United Kingdom's revised position. No official text was released of the contributions made by those present at the Pörtschach summit, but press reports reveal that it was the British Prime Minister who introduced the debate on security and defence policy.
It would appear that he used his address to explain to his colleagues that the Kosovo crisis had shown that the Fifteen should be able to deploy military capability at their borders, especially when the United States did not wish to become involved. He appears to have argued that three solutions were open to the Fifteen: developing a European Security and Defence Identity within NATO; merging WEU and the European Union and finding a way in which WEU, NATO and the European Union could work in conjunction with one another. In a press conference he gave on 25 October 1998, Mr Blair made the point that:
"We are at the very beginning of that debate, we need to get the institutional mechanism right, we need to make sure that that institutional mechanism in no way undermines NATO but rather is complementary to it".
In a speech he gave in Edinburgh on 13 November 1998, Mr Blair explained the United Kingdom's new position as follows:
"NATO is above all a transatlantic alliance. US and Canadian commitment to Europe's defence has been at the heart of our security and prosperity for 50 years. We must work to keep them engaged in the future as in the past. Shoulder to shoulder.
But Europe has always been the weaker of the twin pillars of the Alliance, both in its ability to decide rapidly and its capability to put those decisions into action. Our US allies have often called for more equal burden-sharing. They have not always been keen to see a greater European identity of view.
As I have already told my European Union colleagues, Europe's foreign policy voice in the world is unacceptably muted and ineffective, given our economic weight and strategic interests. In Kosovo, we once again showed ourselves hesitant and disunited.
We must change this, by ensuring that the EU can speak with a single, authoritative voice on the key international issues of the day and can intervene effectively where necessary.
At Amsterdam, European leaders agreed on new political instruments - a so-called Mr CFSP and a new planning capability. They will certainly help.
But they will not be enough. Diplomacy works best when backed by the credible threat of force. The maxim applies to Europe too. Europe needs to develop the ability to act alone in circumstances where, for whatever reason, the US is not able or does not wish to participate. Why should US taxpayers and US troops always have to resolve problems on our doorstep?
This does not mean duplicating NATO, creating a European standing army, or moving away from intergovernmental decision-making. But it does mean two things:
- First, rapid and comprehensive implementation of the European identity in NATO agreed in Berlin at the beginning of 1996. We need a European decision-making capacity and command structure which can operate rapidly and effectively if necessary.
- Second, proper decision-making structures in the EU, headed by European Council readiness to take strategic decisions on Europe-only operations.
Europe needs genuine military operational capability - not least forces able to react quickly and work together effectively - and genuine political will. Without these, we will always be talking about an empty shell.
But we also need to check the institutions are right. To decide how the EU, WEU and NATO can best mesh together. We have no preconceptions. Rather we want a new debate. It would be good to see some emerging conclusions by the Washington Summit.
A stronger, more effective Europe in foreign policy and security will benefit our North Atlantic allies. It should strengthen NATO, and strengthen Europe. That is our aim."
II. Progress in the debate on European security following the British Prime Minister's initiative
The most clear-cut of the various reactions on the part of European nations to the British initiative has been that of President Chirac who, at the Pörtschach summit, took up the suggestion he had made in August, recalling that if a decision were reached that Europeans should intervene, the defence ministers of the European Union would need to be able to meet under conditions yet to be specified. They needed the support of a specialist agency to draw up a plan of campaign. That task at present falls to WEU, which would gradually change and be integrated into the European Union institutions. Two routes might be envisaged for implementing any future intervention under the aegis of the European Union: recourse to NATO's European chain of command or a coalition of European states, as in the case of Albania.
During the informal meeting of the defence ministers of the fifteen European Union member states held in Vienna on 3 and 4 November 1998, the United Kingdom Defence Minister again stressed NATO's importance and the need not to undermine it, and referred to four options, none of them, in his view, straightforward. They consisted of:
- a merger between WEU and the European Union;
- merging some parts of WEU with the EU and others with NATO;
- the creation of a more distinct European dimension within NATO;
- reorganising and breathing new life into WEU.
The gathering momentum of the debate led the WEU Council of Ministers, meeting in Rome on 16 and 17 November 1998, to express the wish "that a process of informal reflection be initiated at WEU on the question of Europe's security and defence in the perspective of the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty and of the Washington Summit". The Ministers stressed on this occasion that such a reflection should serve the interests of all WEU nations.
At the Franco-German summit on 1 December 1998, the two countries agreed to mobilise for prevention and management of regional crises and, to that end, to seek out ways to allow the European Union access to the operational capabilities it lacked, either by providing it with European assets of its own or by making NATO assets available to it under the agreements reached at the Berlin Atlantic Council. They also agreed to give thought to what they regarded as the desirable process of integrating WEU into the European Union.
The debate took a new turn at the Franco-British summit held in Saint-Malo, on 4 December 1998, where the heads of state and of government on both sides agreed on certain basic principles as follows:
- the European Council must be in a position to take decisions concerning a common defence policy within the framework of the CFSP;
- those decisions must be taken on an intergovernmental basis;
- Europeans must operate within the institutional framework of the European Union where it would be necessary to schedule meetings of defence ministers;
- the European Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by suitable structures and credible military forces, without unnecessary duplication with NATO;
- Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty must be retained;
- the Union should be able to have recourse to NATO or other external military means;
- the differing situations of European countries, particularly in relation to NATO, must be respected.
American Government reaction can be gauged from an article which appeared in the Financial Timeson 7 December last. In it, American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, emphasised that any institutional change must remain in line with the principles of the Atlantic partnership. Three pitfalls, which she referred to as the three Ds, were in her view therefore to be avoided:
- decoupling: the European decision-making process should not be unhooked from broader Alliance decision-making;
duplication: between NATO and the European Union, and
- discrimination: against NATO members that were not EU members.
However, more important still is the need to evaluate the impact of the new debate in Europe in the context of the preparations for the NATO Summit, where a decision is to be taken on the Atlantic Alliance's new political mission and Strategic Concept. In this connection, the European Allies have to contend with proposals put forward by Mrs Albright to the effect that the Alliance must build up NATO's preventive and protective capabilities against new threats - such as weapons of mass destruction, drugs and terrorism - even if such threats might emanate from regions outside the NATO area and are not normally part of the organisation's traditional area of responsibility. Here the United States has already run into opposition from some of its European allies, in particular France.
When the European Council met in Vienna on 12 December 1998, the heads of state and of government of the Fifteen took no decisions of an institutional nature. However they welcomed "the new impetus given to the debate on a common European policy on security and defence" and more especially the Saint-Malo declaration. The heads of state and of government considered "that in order for the European Union to be in a position to play its full role on the international stage the CFSP must be backed by credible operational capabilities". At the same time they underlined that the "reinforcement of European solidarity must take into account the various positions of European states, including the obligations of some member states within NATO". Lastly the European Council invited the new German Presidency to further the debate on the basis of discussions in WEU and the European Union and resolved to re-examine the issue of CFSP development at the Cologne Summit on 3 and 4 June 1999.
On 18 February 1999, the German Defence Minister, Mr Scharping, announced that the German Presidency would put forward a proposal, after the Washington NATO Summit in April, for integrating WEU in the European Union. While recognising the difficulties that had to be resolved to achieve this objective, the minister did not rule out the prospect of the European Council's reaching a decision in principle about integration at the European Summit to be held in Cologne. The necessary details could be sorted out between now and the end of the year 2000.
III. Assessment of the possible consequences of the new situation
The Maastricht Treaty set out the decision by the Fifteen (subsequently restated in the Amsterdam Treaty) to frame a common defence policy, that might lead to a common defence, but did not stipulate a time-frame within which this might be achieved. Two very different fears prevented any firm decisions being taken in this area:
- that frequently expressed by the United Kingdom and shared to varying extents by many Union members, that too strong an affirmation of a European defence policy would undermine NATO and the United States commitment to Europe;
- that raised by Finland and Sweden and to an extent also by Austria and Ireland, that it would constitute too abrupt a challenge to the policies of neutrality that they had followed for some 40 or 50 years under different regimes. Added to which, some smaller powers, Denmark in particular, feared being dragged by their larger European neighbours into military adventures in which they had no wish to get involved. It must be emphasised that all the WEU observers are willing to contribute to the debate on the development of a stronger CFSP, but they also make clear that the future activities in which they will be involved will only be those specified in the Amsterdam Treaty.
Despite the fact that their position on the matter presents discernible differences, they are united by the fact that the situation as it is today, on the eve of the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, sits well with their foreign policies.
The centrality given by the Amsterdam Treaty to the so-called Petersberg tasks resulted from a Swedish-Finnish proposal, and the "opt-out" provision laid down in the treaty, granting wide room for manoeuvre, allows those countries greater flexibility with regard to their internal political situations.
Abrupt changes, such as the approval of a time-frame for bringing in a common defence policy, could, at this particular time, have domestic consequences for some of the observer countries in terms of political stability and public support. The decision taken on 12 January 1999 by a special Committee set up by Sweden to endorse that country's rejection of any form of military alliance should therefore be seen in this light.
These two sets of fears have obviously not evaporated and will undoubtedly surface when it comes to preparing the decisions the European Council is to take in 1999. British intervention in Iraq alongside the United States in December 1998, without the UK's partners being properly consulted, cannot but raise questions about whether Britain's priorities really have changed; at the same time the lack of a UN mandate for this undertaking has served to increase non-aligned suspicions about the initiatives larger powers are likely to take, within and outside NATO or WEU.
Moreover, Mrs Albright's references to US objectives in relation to NATO reform, on which a decision is due in spring 1999, necessarily raise the question as to the room they would leave for a European security policy, inasmuch that they aim on the one hand to extend the organisation's responsibilities into new areas - specifically the fight against terrorism, drugs and the proliferation of ABC weapons - and would additionally have the effect of removing the geographic boundaries assigned to mutual assistance by the signatories of the Washington Treaty; and lastly because they also allow for the possibility of military operations not legitimated by United Nations mandate.
Such considerations lead us to wonder whether the British, who clearly did consult with the Americans before presenting their proposals on European security, have anything more in mind than strengthening transatlantic ties further by turning Europe into an instrument in the service of an Alliance with wider powers, by ensuring in other words that any genuinely European defence and security organisation remained devoid of any aim or substance. It should be recalled that the information initially released on the British proposals boiled down to the demise of WEU and a shelling out of its responsibilities between NATO and the European Union, with NATO inherting its military structures, in other words any assets that would allow Europe to undertake military action outside NATO, while its political responsibilities - wholly residual when not underpinned by any means of enforcement - fell to the European Union. If, in what followed, the British statement laid more emphasis on the European dimension of the United Kingdom's proposals, it remained extremely vague about their substance. At the Vienna European Council on 11 and 12 December 1998, it was stated that exchanges of views in this area would continue, but no reference was made to WEU's integration in the European Union.
The document released following the Franco-British talks in Saint-Malo on 4 December 1998 is seemingly a declaration of intent in favour of organising European defence within the European Union. However, it is very imprecise about how responsibilities and assets would be shared between NATO and the European Union, as it states that such division would avoid unnecessary duplication. This is interpreted from the British stance as ruling out any duplication whatsoever, while the French take the view that anything that strengthens Europe's independent capabilities would be useful and should therefore be supported.
The Saint-Malo project envisages the European Union acquiring defence capabilities and responsibilities, thus opening up the possibility of WEU being incorporated into a European Union intergovernmental pillar, the CFSP, in conjunction with the development of the ESDI within NATO.
However the Saint-Malo declaration rules out any responsibility in this area for the European Commission and the European Parliament. (The British have moreover rejected any plan to set up a European army). Therefore at present it does not constitute a plan for the integration of the defence dimension in the European Union in any real sense.
The Saint-Malo declaration states that Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty should be retained but does not make clear whether it should be incorporated into a new Treaty on European Union or whether it would be preferable to keep the modified Brussels Treaty. The declaration also refers to "credible" military forces but does not define the position of the two signatories as regards the forces they consider should come under direct European Union command and separable but not separate NATO forces. However it should be remembered that Saint-Malo is not the outcome but the start of a consultation process between France and the United Kingdom that is still going on.
Moreover, information obtained from British sources would appear to suggest that the United States protested to the British authorities about the excessive concessions the latter were said to have made to French views in that respect. The United Kingdom's handling of the Iraqi affair leads to the conclusion that the absolute priority Britain gives to NATO and the American Alliance remains unaltered and that UK intentions are primarily directed towards facilitating France's return to the fold of the NATO joint military commands in view of the opening created in this direction though the setting-up of a NATO force in FYROM to protect members of the OSCE Kosovo verification mission.
One might wonder whether France - although it has, it would appear, come round to the idea of taking its place once again in the NATO joint commands, a process begun back in 1996 - may not have reservations regarding that course of action. It was disappointed at not having obtained any concessions in response to its requests for a fairer distribution of military responsibilities in NATO between Europe and the United States, and also with the relative lack of support from its European allies in that connection. Furthermore one effect of France's system of political "cohabitation" seems to be that the French President and the French Government constantly vie with another as to who can adopt the most independent stance in relation to the United States. Not only is the introduction of the euro presented as a challenge to the dollar, but leading socialists, in particular Mr Jospin and Mr Richard, have repeatedly commented publicly, both in the context of Iraq and of the Atlantic Alliance, on the United States' overly dominant position in NATO and its excessively rigid interpretation, in theory and in practice, of its leadership role in the Alliance, notwithstanding its stated intention of achieving a better balance in transatlantic relations.
Mr Richard, on the assumption that reservations concerning the Iraqi operation brought France and its European partners closer together, was uncharacteristically open about French thinking regarding the international order, when he stated, in a panel discussion broadcast on radio and published in Le Monde on 6 January, that the aim was for that order to be based on "multi-polarity" - an idea floated on several occasions in December by French spokesmen with a role in foreign policy matters. The matter was also raised by the German Foreign Minister, Mr Fischer, as the representative of the EU Chairmanship-in-Office of the Council, in his address to the European Parliament on 12 January 1999. Here he advocated that "in the multi-polar world of the 21st century, the EU must be a player that was able to conduct its own independent policy".
Such an approach is diametrically opposed to the thinking of the American authorities, in particular the views voiced by President Clinton and above all by Mrs Albright, on the subjects of Iraq, the United Nations and NATO reform. It is becoming increasingly clear to American eyes that the international order must be organised around a single polar structure rooted in NATO, with a reduced role for the United Nations which is regarded as inefficient in underpinning the international order.
The two positions are more strongly and clearly delineated than they have ever been since the time of General de Gaulle and President Kennedy. The French are right in their perception that to affirm Europe in any way is to challenge the United States, but perhaps wrong in saying so, given the latter is a dominant power. That point of view is shared by the British, who judge it prudent to tone down and if possible avoid any challenges of this nature. Seen in this light, the euro, if successful, in other words if it leads to a shake-up of the international monetary system in terms of a "multi-polar" understanding that allows Europe to come into its own, would notch up a substantial triumph for France's world vision. In the monetary sphere, the signs are that a European entity will swiftly emerge, forcing the United States to negotiate with Europe on an equal footing in the whole sphere of economic affairs. Such success will not however have any direct impact on defence.
Indeed, the French would be wrong to assume that foreign policy and defence can be handled in the same way. They are failing to take account of the fact that, although in economic terms European interests by and large tend to converge, there is no common European perception with regard to a foreign and defence policy and that France is, in the eyes of many of its European partners, every bit as suspect as, if not more so than the United States when it comes to seeking to draw Europeans into undertakings of which they want no part. The French also fail to grasp that northern European countries feel little affinity for the Mediterranean concerns that are of major importance to their southern European brethren, and to the United States.
Moreover the Americans and the British are quite right to think that American power is such that Europe, even if united, could never conduct a foreign policy that was too far out of step with the United States. While the latter may encourage Europeans to invest more heavily in their own defence, it does so safe in the knowledge that America is so far ahead of Europe that it would take light-years for them to catch up and that European countries - including France - have no desire whatsoever in the present climate to jeopardise the very substantial efforts they are currently making, in particular to guarantee the euro's financial success, in order to increase their defence budgets. Western European nations (not counting Greece and Turkey) spend approximately 1.9% of GNP on defence, as against the US's 3.3%. Consequently, they are hardly inclined to risk their money on a European defence policy that runs counter to stout American resolve, although neither are they prepared, in view of ever-growing American dominance, to turn their backs completely on the prospect of such a policy, unless forced to by the United States.
Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the British initiative is read differently from one European country to the next and one wonders whether the time is in fact ripe for a shake-up of the West's existing security and defence system. After the Vienna Summit it may prove difficult to remove the issue of European defence from the agenda for negotiations between EU members, but their completion before the NATO Summit decides what measures are to be taken in the NATO framework would appear to be ruled out. Only after those measures have been taken will Europeans know what room they have for manoeuvre. If it is unlikely to be very great and substantial changes may need to take place in certain countries' policies before a true European defence and security policy can be established, a great deal of progress in that direction cannot be expected for some time to come.
However, the British initiative is perhaps an opportunity not to be missed. Given that it seems to have attracted a measure of support among European countries, for whom it represents an opportunity to make qualitative progress towards the creation of a defence dimension in a unified Europe, there are plenty of reasons also for regarding the present as a unique opportunity for putting forward ideas offering a conceptual response to the questions raised both by the British initiative and that taken by the French and British at Saint-Malo. It behoves us to take an equally constructive approach in considering what action can be taken by the WEU Assembly.
IV. Making the most of the opportunity to achieve qualitative progress in terms of European security and defence
It has been said time and again that a fully integrated Europe can never be achieved while security and defence have no part in it. However, unless all the countries concerned are agreed on the objectives, purpose and implications involved, it will remain a dead letter. There is no escaping the fact that such agreement does not yet exist but rarely have such promising circumstances presented themselves as those that obtain today. This being so, it is nevertheless worth recalling a point the Assembly of WEU has already emphasised on many occasions, namely that any change in the status quo should be designed to strengthen, not weaken, European countries' security and Europe's defence.
In this connection, the fact that the governments concerned may feel duty bound to demonstrate progress to the public at large could represent a danger, inasmuch as haste and pressure may lead both to look to simplistic options offering no real solution to the underlying problems. Indeed, one such that could lead to developments capable of being presented as a collective triumph and progress for Europe is to eliminate WEU - whose contribution is poorly understood by the public at large in Europe - in favour, in principle at least, of the European Union, which represents a far more successful embodiment of the aspirations of a large part of that public. Such apparent institutional simplification is a likely scenario. It should be remembered in this connection that the Assembly itself supported efforts to move gradually in the direction of a common defence within the European Union, thus making it possible for WEU progressively to integrate into the Union.
However the Assembly has always emphasised the need first to resolve the basic problems that stand in the way of a common defence, or at any rate seem to. But the main difficulties are not institutional ones. The Rapporteur is persuaded that institutional issues will sort themselves out once all the interested parties are agreed on the prime objective. Failing such agreement, any solution that aimed to simplify would be a retrograde step and would undermine the European identity.
We should ask ourselves then just how far we want that identity to develop and in what framework it should find expression. Clearly, the organisation around which a true European identity can form is the European Union, and as far as the field of the economy is concerned, that identity already largely exists. The introduction of the single currency, if it proves successful, in other words if it gives rise to continued economic expansion at tolerable social and human cost to European society as a whole - which cannot be taken as read - should produce a convergence of interests among the countries involved to a point where it cannot help but precipitate the development of common policies in a number of areas and the reform of the European institutions that is required for them to be able to take on real political responsibilities, as well as acting as a magnet drawing European non-EU member states or those not in the euro zone in closer around the Union. Moreover, the process should make it possible to identify more clearly than in the past what Europe's specific interests, as opposed to the wider interests of the western world, in fact are. Free trade can be tolerated by European society only if it forms part of a wider social and political fabric that gives it the right and the means to run its own affairs democratically and to use its economic clout where necessary to ensure its views and interests prevail, just as the Americans do on their account.
What then should be the substance of the European Security and Defence Identity? The following are essential points the Assembly should press for:
Europeans should decide whether they want Europe to inhabit a mono-polar world, with the United States at its fulcrum and under their management, or whether, removed from United States domination, it is to become a player in a multi-polar universe. Only the second option can give free rein to full development of the European identity;
- the ESDI must encompass independent action by Europe in the field of crisis management, not merely European involvement in NATO-managed operations;
- the ESDI must maintain the obligation for Europeans to come to one another's assistance, supplementing the assistance clause contained in the Washington Treaty. The Saint-Malo declaration is entirely satisfactory as far as the foregoing two points are concerned;
- the ESDI is being established within the Atlantic Alliance. This raises difficulties in terms of the involvement of non-NATO states which are WEU observer countries. The objective of ensuring Europe has its own independent capability to take decisions and to act and of bringing the construction of Europe to fruition through gradual implementation of the defence project in the EU framework is complementary to that process and in the longer term European Union member countries of non-aligned tradition should be included in it. Hence providing Europe with a capacity for autonomous action already means that development of the ESDI should not be not confined solely to the NATO framework, but must also go forward in a specifically European context. This is also an essential condition for Europeans being able to take on greater responsibilities, in the interests of the entire Euro-Atlantic community, as the North American allies have repeatedly demanded. Thus there is no way of avoiding a minimum amount of duplication as far as certain structures are concerned; however the formula consisting of forces that are "separable but not separate" which applies to the CJTF will prove very useful in restricting overlap. Nevertheless Europe must be guaranteed the support of credible military forces to which it can gain access without fear of a veto from countries that have no part, or none as yet, in the making of Europe. The Saint-Malo declaration refers expressly to "national or multinational means outside the NATO framework";
- the ESDI must also take full account of the security interests of those central European nations that will derive no benefit in the foreseeable future from a further opening up of the Atlantic Alliance to the East and which are being made hostage to the difficulties the European Union is experiencing in agreeing a date for the intake of new member states;
- the ESDI must be based on a budget policy which sets defence expenditure levels commensurate with Europe's intended role as an independent player on the world stage and at the same time meets American demands for it to take on greater responsibilities in the context of transatlantic security;
- the ESDI must be based on a common industrial policy as far as armaments are concerned.
As stated in paragraph 33, the main aim of any initiative to reorganise defence Europe must be greater security. This requires careful thought before calling into question progress made and the achievments made to date in the European Union, NATO and WEU frameworks. The Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties set up a whole system of cooperation and coordination between the European Union and WEU which is only now coming on stream. What are the chances of replacing that with arrangements enabling the European Union to act under its own steam?
As a result of the decisions taken in Berlin, NATO became the initiator of a series of arrangements for allowing European peacekeeping operations to be implemented under WEU's political control and direction. Arrangements covering the CJTF, command structures, defence planning and exercises on the transfer and return of NATO assets are in the process of being finalised. Can such arrangements be transposed into agreements that would create a direct link between the European Union and NATO?
WEU, which has substantially developed its own capability, is now fully operational. Furthermore it offers the following advantages in that:
- it has military capabilities enabling it to undertake the gamut of "Petersberg missions" from humanitarian aid or crisis-prevention through peace enforcement to combat;
- the ten full members and signatories of the modified Brussels Treaty, being members of both the European Union and NATO, are able to take decisions as Europe's defence "hard core";
- it also makes it possible for the 28 countries of varying status that comprise the WEU family to take part in consultations on basic problems of European security;
- it can intervene on behalf of the EU;
- it can draw on NATO assets;
- it can operate "out of area";
- it coordinates armaments policy and is alone in Europe in discharging that role;
- it brings central and eastern European countries into a European defence institution;
- it allows European countries with a non-aligned tradition to draw closer to NATO;
- it enables European countries that are members of NATO but not of the EU to draw closer to the Union;
- it is subject to democratic scrutiny through its Assembly, acting in conjunction with the national parliaments of the 28 countries represented;
- its operational capability has seen major investment in recent years;
- it has one foot in the EU and the other in NATO thus acting as a bridge between what have hitherto been entirely separate organisations;
- it has close relations with Russia and Ukraine.
All the above represents achievements of considerable importance that must be maintained and developed, irrespective of the institutional formula eventually arrived at. If it proves possible to keep those achievements intact, there would be nothing standing in the way of progress towards the creation of a true defence dimension to the European Union.
If that were to come about, the implications at the institutional level and the adjustments needed to the treaties would immediately be obvious. However it raises the question of whether all European nations are now ready to sign up to the European defence project as described in the foregoing paragraphs and to give it their support.
This is first and foremost a question that should be addressed to the United Kingdom. Is Britain prepared to agree to and throw its weight behind a true common defence in the European Union framework, in other words outside the Atlantic Alliance? The Saint-Malo declaration offers no answer as it only refers to a capacity for autonomous action. The British do not want there to be a European army and have left no room for doubt as to the prime importance they attach to NATO as the main European security organisation. There is therefore a great deal of underlying uncertainty as to the specific areas where the British have in fact had a change of heart.
The next question is one for the five WEU observer nations. Are they willing to be bound, within the European Union, by a mutual assistance clause, which would turn the Union into a military alliance? For most of them the answer is no. However, it should be noted that their individual positions vary on a number of points. The country which has shown the greatest scepticism about a future mutual assistance clause is Sweden. The new Foreign Affairs Minister seems to leave no doubt about her government's attitude. The Swedish Government makes a clear distinction between crisis management and territorial defence. Sweden is ready to take part in crisis-management and other operations referred to in the Amsterdam Treaty, but has affirmed that "the borderline of our international cooperation is drawn at collective security arrangements".
The reasons which lie behind this position are essentially twofold: first, there is insufficient consensus among the political parties, especially those that support the Social Democratic Government; secondly, public opinion is still deeply resistant to drastic change in the country's foreign and security policy.
Finland, which will hold the next EU Presidency, does not, despite officially identifying itself with the Swedish position on a possible mutual assistance clause, seem to rule out the possibility for the future. The Prime Minster has on several occasions emphasised the importance of NATO (and WEU) membership as an option. In other words, the Finnish approach is quite flexible, mainly due to generally high levels of public support and substantial political consensus on government security policy. However, the country has always had to be mindful of its relationship with Russia, which is based on a bilateral treaty replacing the former treaty with the Soviet Union.
Among the countries of neutral persuasion, Austria has shown the most genuine interest in a mutual assistance clause. By contrast with the political scene in Scandinavian countries, some Austrian political parties seem to accept the idea of giving up their neutrality in the near future. Others, like the Social Democratic Party, seem more resistant to radical change in the short to medium term. However, the idea of a mutual assistance clause in the longer term seems to find general acceptance.
Ireland is at present the country whose position is least well-defined. It is not in a position to sign a mutual assistance clause as its internal security policy debate has just taken on a new lease of life and Partnership for Peace (PfP) is the key issue. Given that other erstwhile neutral nations held this debate several years before signing up for PfP, it seems unlikely that the question of a mutual assistance clause will enter into the discussion in the short to medium term.
Finally, the concerns of Denmark, a NATO member country and another reticent, though generally supportive, EU member, are to be distinguished from the other, traditionally neutral, nations. Denmark's openly expressed reservations about a mutual assistance clause may also reflect the tacit concerns of other countries about collective commitments. Moreover, there is no guarantee that opposition may not also be encountered from WEU member countries. Hence German Chancellor Schröder's recent statement before the Bundestag to the effect that no one was thinking of arming the European Union in order to turn it into a military power.
V. Margins within which institutional proposals can make ground
Unofficial sources suggest that certain governments take the view that if the European Council decides in favour of establishing a common defence in the European Union, and on WEU's integration, this could be implemented without an intergovernmental conference or ratification by parliaments. Governments concerned will therefore need to be reminded that a decision of this nature necessarily implies revision of the Treaties and, consequently, ratification by parliaments.
If one proceeds on the assumption that it will not be possible for the Fifteen to agree on the European Union's being transformed into a military alliance in the foreseeable future, the issue then becomes one of how at least to facilitate and simplify the European decision-making process. At present this takes place in both WEU and the European Union's CFSP. Results in WEU have been meagre, through lack of sufficient unanimity of views among its members. This is an obstacle that no institutional or decision-making machinery can surmount unless European society is completely transformed. The CFSP, although located within the European Union, has achieved no better results than WEU and transferring WEU's activities to the EU would not give Europe the decision-making capability it lacks at present. Conversely, it might be helpful from now on if the two processes were reduced to a single one by transferring the exercise of the WEU Council's decision-making powers to the European Council or the Council of Ministers of the European Union, which would meet in the present WEU configuration, in other words with defence ministers present and associate member, observer and associate partner country representation, in line with those countries' varying statuses.
Such simplification of the decision-making process would avoid a complicated system for taking a succession of decisions having to be worked out and implemented by WEU and the European Union. The blueprint for that system - a flow-chart drawn up in 1997 - envisaged no fewer than 43 separate steps for mounting WEU action at the request of the European Union. The number of steps in the process has in the meantime been reduced to 25 - which is still high.
1. Options currently under consideration
In order to facilitate preparation of decisions and action to be taken by Europe, the following options are currently being examined:
- transfer of WEU's political responsibilities to the European Union and its military functions to NATO;
- transfer of WEU's political and military functions, apart from those arising from mutual assistance commitments in a collective defence framework (Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty), to the European Union;
- integration of WEU into the CFSP (European Union second pillar);
- transformation of WEU into an "Agency" of the European Union;
- integration of WEU into a fourth European Union pillar;
- a stronger, revitalised WEU.
The first option is the one that the British initially seemed to prefer. This would lead to WEU's demise. Although the Saint-Malo declaration does not say as much, the idea is still on the table. This model is one that could find favour with North American allies and possibly also with countries of non-aligned tradition, although it would imply finding a solution to the problems of neutral country involvement in NATO military cooperation and of associate member and associate partner involvement in political cooperation in the EU framework. However the main drawback to this option is that it means deferring any European defence project indefinitely. It is therefore one that cannot be entertained, unless that project is to be abandoned for good.
It seems far more likely, however, that governments will look to the second option for a solution, entrusting both WEU's political responsibilities and its military, crisis-management activity, in which the neutral countries are able to take part, to the European Union. This would mean bringing WEU armaments cooperation within the community sphere and incorporating WEU's military responsibilities into the CFSP - apart from those pertaining to collective defence, as envisaged under Article V, which would remain "in abeyance", as it were, outside the European Union. If this option were to come about, WEU would be drained of all substance and Defence Europe would be seriously compromised. It must be borne in mind that the temptation for governments to follow this course is the greater, since it is quite possible to implement this option without amending the existing treaties. It is clear, therefore, that the Assembly must speak out firmly against any such dismantling of WEU, which, under the present circumstances, would rob it of all credibility.
It is admittedly, however, very hard to argue against this option, given that it leaves Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty intact, on paper at least, by holding it in abeyance outside the European Union. Supporters of this option may well argue that it changes little in a situation that has obtained since Europeans took the decision to assign full responsibility for implementation of Article V collective defence obligations to the relevant NATO authorities. They could also claim that this solution would allow Europeans to give substnce to the European defence project when the political situation allowed or demanded it. However in point of fact, there is a fundamental difference between the present position and the one that would ensue from the option in question.
Currently collective defence, although confined to the ten full members of WEU, is a political reality because it is based on an institution, WEU, which monitors the application of the relevant clause of the Treaty. Notwithstanding the fact that, in 1950, Europeans decided to assign the military implementation of a collective defence founded on Article V of the modified Brussels Treaty to NATO, the decision was still based on the assumption of the continuing presence on the continent of Europe of a credible number of adequately armed American troops.
That presence, backed up by the US nuclear umbrella, was guaranteed throughout the entire cold war period, but question marks are now being raised over it by a growing number of American politicians, owing to the profound changes wrought in the international security environment since the fall of the Berlin wall. Even though, in the present climate, the possibility of an armed attack on the territorial integrity of WEU member states seems wholly remote, it would be extremely dangerous to conclude in consequence that the European collective defence commitment is no longer necessary and can be discharged solely by reference to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. However, if all WEU's political and military responsibilities, apart from its Article V responsibilities, were transferred to the European Union, Article V would become devoid of political substance, despite the Treaty's remaining in force, owing to the fact that WEU, as the organisation hitherto responsible for its application, had been transferred lock, stock and barrel to the European Union. It would be politically unrealistic to think that a Treaty that was no longer applied could be reactivated to order.