Treaty of Brussels

Treaty of Brussels

"This article is on the 1948 treaty, which served as a basis for the Western Union. Some see it as the basis of NATO, set up by the North Atlantic Treaty a year later. For the treaty in 1516, refer to War of the League of Cambrai"

A Western Union

Signed on March 17, 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as an expansion to the previous year's defence pledge, the Dunkirk Treaty, signed between Britain and France. The Treaty was aimed primarily at defending against possible German rearmament.citation needed The Pact had cultural and social clauses, concepts for the setting up of a 'Consultative Council'. The basis for this was that a cooperation between Western nations would help stop the spread of Communism.

In that it was an effort towards European post-war security cooperation, the Brussels Pact was a precursor to NATO and similar to it in the sense that it promised European mutual defence. However, it greatly differed from NATO in that it envisaged a purely European mutual defence pact primarily against Germany, whereas NATO took shape the next year, on the recognition that Europe was unavoidably divided into two opposing blocks (western and communist), that the USSR was a much greater threat than the possibility of a resurgent Germany, and that western European mutual defence would have to be atlantacist (i.e. including North America).

In September 1948, the parties to the Treaty of Brussels decided to create a military agency under the name of the Western Union Defence Organization. It consisted of a WU Defence Committee at Prime Ministerial level, and a WU Combined Chiefs of Staff committee, including all the national chiefs of staff, which would direct the operative organisation. [Sean Maloney, 'To Secure Command of the Sea,' University of New Brunswick thesis 1991, p.95-97 and Lord Ismay, [ NATO: The First Five Years] ]
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (UK) was appointed permanent Chairman of the Land, Naval and Air Commanders-in-Committee, with headquarters in Fontainebleau, France. The nominated commanders-in-chief were General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France) as C-in-C, Land Forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir James Robb (UK) as C-in-C, Air Forces, and Vice-Admiral Robert Jaujard (France) for the Navy, as Flag Officer Western Europe. [NATO Archives, [ The First Five Years] and [ The Western Union and its defence organisation] , RUSI Journal, 1993 (reprint from 1948-9)] Volume 3 of Nigel Hamilton's "Life of Montgomery of Alamein" gives a good account of the disagreements between Montgomery and de Lattre which caused much ill-feeling in the headquarters.

The Treaty of Brussels was amended by the Protocol signed in Paris at the conclusion of the London and Paris Conferences on 23 October 1954, which added West Germany and Italy to the Western Union. On this occasion it was renamed the Western European Union.

The Treaty was signed by the following plenipotentiaries:
* Prince Charles of Belgium, as reigning Prince Regent of Belgium
* French President Vincent Auriol
* Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
* Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
* King George VI of the United Kingdom

* Paul-Henri Spaak, Prime Minister of Belgium

* Georges Bidault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs
* Joseph Bech, Luxembourgish Minister of Foreign Affairs
* Gaston Eyskens, Belgian Minister of Finance
* Carel Godfried Willem Hendrik baron van Boetzelaer van Oosterhout, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs
* Ernest Bevin, Secretary of State for Foreign and Imperial Affairs of the United Kingdom
* Jean de Hautecloque, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic in Brussels
* Robert Als, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Luxembourg in Brussels
* Baron Binnert Philip van Harinxma thoe Slooten, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Netherlands in Brussels
* George William Rendel, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty in Brussels


When the division of Europe into two opposing camps became unavoidable, the threat of the USSR and Eastern Bloc became much more important than the threat of German rearmament.

Western Europe therefore sought a new mutual defence pact involving the United States, a powerful military force for such an alliance. The United States, recognising the growing threat of the USSR, was responsive to this idea.

There was therefore rapid progress on this idea, and secret meetings had already begun by the end of March, where American, Canadian and British officials negotiated over the concept. Eventually, it would lead to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington DC in 1949. The WUDO structure was absorbed into NATO from December 1950 to April 1951. [ [ Hansard extract] February 18, 1957] NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe took over the WEU's defence role.

External links and references

* [ European Navigator] The Treaty of Brussels
* [ History until the creation of the WEU]

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