Western European Union

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(WEU) A West European defence organization founded in 1955 by Belgium, France, the UK, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany, and Italy. The WEU came into being as a successor to the Brussels Treaty organization, after France had refused to ratify the treaty providing for a European Defence Community; its primary function was to supervise the rearmament and accession to NATO of West Germany. The Union formally ended the occupation of West Germany and Italy by the Allies. The social and cultural activities initially envisaged by its founders were transferred to the Council of Europe in 1960, leaving the Union with the task of improving defence cooperation among the countries of Western Europe. Reactivated in 1984, it was involved from 1987 in arms control, and was joined by Spain and Portugal in 1989 and by the former East Germany after German reunification in 1990. The WEU helped to coordinate Europe's contribution to the anti‐Iraq coalition in the Gulf War in 1991. In 1993, the Eurocorps rapid reaction unit was founded, comprising land‐based forces from France, Germany, and Belgium. In 1994, several former Soviet satellite states of Eastern Europe (e.g. Bulgaria, Poland, Romania) were granted associate member status. The Maastricht Treaty (1992) envisaged it as the defence component of the European Union.

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