European military alliance

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This article is about the military alliance from 1948-1954. For the American financial services company, see Western Union

The Western Union (WU), also referred to as the Brussels Treaty Organisation (BTO),[1] was the European military alliance established between France, the United Kingdom (UK) and the three Benelux countries in September 1948 in order to implement the Treaty of Brussels signed in March the same year.[Note 1] Under this treaty the signatories, referred to as the five powers, agreed to collaborate in the defence field as well as in the political, economic and cultural fields.

During the Korean War (1950–1953), the headquarters, personnel and plans of the WU's defence arm, the Western Union Defence Organisation (WUDO), were transferred to the newly established North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), providing the nucleus of the European half of NATO's command structure, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. As a consequence of the failure of the European Defence Community in 1954, the London and Paris Conferences led to the Modified Treaty of Brussels (MTB) through which the Western Union was transformed into the Western European Union (WEU) and was joined by Italy and West Germany. As the WEU's functions were transferred to the European Union's (EU) European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) at the turn of the 21st century, the Western Union is a precursor of both NATO and the military arm of the EU.

History [ edit ]

Background [ edit ]

In the aftermath of World War II there were fears of a renewal of German aggression, and on 4 March 1947 the Treaty of Dunkirk was signed by France and the United Kingdom as a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance in the event of a possible attack.

In his speech to the House of Commons on 22 January 1948, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin called for the extension of the Treaty of Dunkirk to also include the Benelux countries, creating a Western Union.[2] The object was to consolidate Western…
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