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Facts about the WEU
Excerpt from the EU Glossary
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Western European Union (WEU)

Western European Union (WEU)

WEU is an organisation which was set up in 1948 for the purposes of cooperation on defence and security. It consists of 28 countries with four different types of status. Member States, associate members, observers and associate partners. The EU countries have the status of Member State (except Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Sweden, which have observer status).

The Treaty on European Union raised WEU to the rank of an "integral part of the development of the Union", while preserving its institutional autonomy, and gave it the task of elaborating and implementing decisions and actions which have defence implications.

WEU associate members

In their Maastricht Declaration of 10 December 1991, the WEU Member States invited the European countries that were members of NATO but not of the European Union to become associate members of WEU. There are six such countries: Iceland, Norway, Turkey and, since March 1999, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. Their associate member status, which was specified in the Petersberg Declaration of 19 June 1992, allows them to participate fully in the meetings of the WEU Council and its working parties. A permanent liaison procedure enables them to be associated with the WEU Planning Cell. They are also entitled to express their views, but cannot veto a decision on which the Member States have reached a consensus. They can associate themselves with their decisions and join in WEU military operations under its command.

WEU associate partners

The status of associated partner was created in 1994 for the ten central and eastern European countries which have concluded a Europe Agreement with the Union. Since Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became associate members of WEU in 1999, the number of associate partners now stands at seven: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the three Baltic States. It allows them to attend meetings of the WEU Council, where they are kept regularly informed of the activities of the Council working groups; they may be invited to participate in these groups on an ad hoc basis. They also have a permanent liaison arrangement with the Planning Cell. Finally, they may be involved in decisions taken by the Member States on the tasks listed in the Petersberg Declaration: humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management including peacemaking.

WEU observers

In their Maastricht Declaration of 10 December 1991 the Member States belonging to WEU proposed that the other EU Member States should be invited to join WEU or to become observers.

Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Sweden have observer status, which means that they may attend the meetings of the WEU Council, can be invited to meetings of working parties and, on request, may speak at such meetings.