European Defence and Security Identity – A Glance at the Western European Union

  • Jean Marie Viriot


In his essay, the author attempts to find an answer to the question: Where did we get to in Europe in the field of security? That is why he opens his account by recalling historical events which were decisive in the light of European defence and security identity. This applies in concrete terms to the Brussels treaty of 1948, amended in 1954, the Hague platform of the West European Union of 1987, the Maastricht treaty of 1991, the Petersberg declaration of 1992, and the Amsterdam treaty of 1997. The signing of the Franco-British declaration of St. Malo in December 1998 also brought fundamental changes in the approach to European defence; it contained the following crucial points: 1) capacity of autonomous action for Europe, 2) European military methods in the frame of NATO and outside NATO, 3) respect of collective defence commitments. The mentioned measures were subsequently confirmed at the NATO summit in Washington in April 1999 and in the declaration of the fifteen at a session of the European Council in Cologne in June 1999. Today emphasis is placed on cooperation and the transparency of the West European Union with the North Atlantic Alliance which remains for the moment the foundation of collective defence. But this creates a number of problems, for example, the incorporation of a small compact military nucleus in the giant structure of the European Union, the advancement of credible European military forces or the solution of participation by allied non-members of the European Union.
In his essay the author arrives at the conclusion that from the point of view of its defence and security identity, Europe is on the right path and that the principles and objectives outlined are correct. The fact is that the West European Union is the guardian of most complex and valuable “acquis”, but shifting this to the European Union could be hard to accomplish without risking a certain paralysis. Yet there is no other option than building a stronger Europe, especially in the area of defence. The fact is that a hegemonist America, “surrounded” by, so speak, vassals must, and will manage to pave the road in the near future to two almost equal partners which will make both sides stronger and capable of facing up jointly to equal future threats.


Author Biography

Jean Marie Viriot



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