Assembly of WEU

The Assembly of Western European Union

The Interparliamentary European Security and Defence Assembly

The Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU, or UEO in French), to which European national parliaments send delegations, is the only treaty-based Interparliamentary European Assembly for security and defence issues.

History and Legality

Located in Paris, the Assembly was founded in 1954 when the 1948 Brussels Treaty on European security and defence cooperation was modified to establish the “Western European Union”. It contains an unconditional mutual defence commitment on the part of member states (Article V). The article stipulates that - “"If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power"” [ Cited from [ Article V, Brussels Treaty] ] .

The Assembly, whose first session was held on 5th July 1955, scrutinizes the full implementation of the collective defence obligation laid down in Article V of the treaty. Article IX of the modified Brussels Treaty obliges WEU member governments represented in the Council to provide national parliamentarians, who sit in the Assembly, with a written annual report on their security and defence activities. As yet no such obligation exists on the part of the European Council vis-à-vis the European Parliament. Hence, the Assembly is currently acting as an interparliamentary forum for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) on the basis of parliamentary instruments for which the WEU legal framework makes provision. Following the transfer of the WEU’s operational activities to the EU, the Assembly’s interparliamentary scrutiny continues to monitor and support intergovernmental cooperation in the field of security and defence, thereby increasing transparency and democratic accountability. The work of the Assembly and its recommendations, to which governments are bound to reply, ensure that cooperation between governments at the European level is mirrored by cooperation between national parliamentarians meeting at the same level.


* The Petersberg tasks, agreed by WEU Ministers in 1992, still define the scope of ESDP crisis-management activities;
* the former WEU Satellite Centre in Torrejón/Spain now provides the EU with a degree of autonomy in analysing satellite imagery for intelligence;
* the WEU Institute for Security Studies (EU) in Paris has been transferred to the EU;
* Defence Ministers participate in the Council’s activities;
* increasing Europeanisation of NATO;
* recognition of the need for a European chain of command;
* the handbook on European military standards and procedures, given as a reference to the EU Military Staff;
* Europe-wide cooperation on defence equipment and in particular the creation of the European Defence Agency, which has absorbed the functions of the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG) and the Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO).

All the above achievements are the direct result of WEU’s past experience and of the political input and impetus generated by national parliamentarians working together in the Assembly.

Members of the Assembly

39 European countries, including all EU and European NATO member states, have the right to send parliamentary delegations to the Assembly. It currently has nearly 400 members. Many are members of the defence, foreign or European affairs committees in their own parliaments.

Enhancing the role of national parliaments in the EU

Following the French and Dutch “no” votes in the 2005 referendums on the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, the EU governments extended the “period of reflection” on the future of Europe. At its meeting on 21 and 22 June 2007, the European Council decided to convene a new intergovernmental conference (IGC) in order to amend the EU Treaties. It published a clear mandate for the IGC to draw up a “Treaty of Lisbon” with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the enlarged Union. The aim is for the Treaty of Lisbon to be ratified by Member States before the European Parliament elections scheduled for June 2009.

A new article on the role of national parliaments in the EU makes provision for interparliamentary cooperation between national parliaments and with the European Parliament in accordance with the Protocol on the role of national parliaments in the EU, which points to the complementary work of national parliamentarians and members of the EP and recognises the need for closer cooperation between them. While the protocol appended to the Treaty of Lisbon opens up additional possibilities for interparliamentary dialogue on the common security and defence policy, it is insufficient because it goes no further than to propose the holding of conferences as the framework for dialogue. The WEU Assembly, however, has for many years affirmed in both its reports and its dialogue with the governments of the Member States that, in the interest of democratic legitimacy, European foreign, security and defence policy must be subject to democratic scrutiny by national parliamentarians meeting in a European interparliamentary assembly.

For as long as there is no common defence in the EU, the WEU Assembly provides a solution to the problem of a democratic deficit within the EU by exercising “interparliamentary” scrutiny over what the governments have stated will remain an “intergovernmental” policy doubtless for a long time to come.

= Structure =

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana, who is responsible for the ESDP, is at the same time the WEU Secretary-General, thus creating a link between both organisations at the highest executive level. The current Assembly of WEU President is Jean-Pierre Masseret(France, Socialist group), who took over from Stef Goris (Belgium, Liberal Group) in 2005.
The Secretary General / Clerk to the Assembly is Mr Colin Cameron (British).

The main interparliamentary work within the Assembly is done by 4 committees:
* The Defence Committee is concerned with European security and defence issues from an operational and military standpoint.
* The Political Committee addresses the political aspects of European security and defence.
* The Technological and Aerospace Committee is concerned with matters pertaining to defence and to cooperation in the field of armaments.
* The Committee for Parliamentary and Public Relations is responsible for cooperation with national parliaments and monitors and analyses security and defence debates in national parliaments as well as parliamentary questions put to national governments. It also makes comparative studies and proposes improved benchmarks for government accountability.

The members of the Assembly…

… meet twice a year for plenary sessions and throughout the year in committee meetings, conferences and colloquies. Each committee appoints a Rapporteur from among its members, who presents a draft report and recommendation on current security and defence issues to the competent committee. After several debates during which the draft recommendations are often considerably modified, committee members vote on the final texts which are then submitted to the plenary session for amendment and adoption by the Assembly. Assembly Recommendations are sent to the Council, which is obliged to give written replies. Parliamentarians also have the right to put questions to the Council.



See also

* Assembly of Western European Union: The Interparliamentary European Seciruty and Defence Assembly (2005). "The European Defence Debate 1955-2005". Paris: IMP Graphic Cosne-sur-Loire.
* [ Assembly Reports 2007] .
* [ Assembly adopted texts 2007] .

External links

*Official site of Assembly of WEU – [] (EN)
*Site officiel de l’Assemblée - [] (FR)
*Assembly List - []
*Internships - []
*Press releases - []

Related sites

*WEU Council – []
*EU Council Secretariat - []
*EU Institute for Security Studies – []
*European Defence Agency - []
*EU Satellite Centre - []

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