Throughout the progress of the EU, many of us have watched the "WEU" (Western European Union) very closely. Originally formed under the Brussel Treaty", which interestingly began in 1948 with only four countries, the alliance grew to 10 countries and became known as the Western European Union. It has been watched closely because technically, the EU President is the President of the EU Council, who is led by the WEU.
The WEU has also been watched closely because it has always been considered as the "military wing" of the EU. The entire purpose of the original Brussels Treaty was to have a defense pact between these countries in facing the communist threat. It has remained so as it morphed into the WEU.
These 10 countries who form the "member states" of the WEU and thus the leadership role of the WEU are:
- United Kingdom
Many of us have often pondered what the prophetic role of these 10 countries could be. The WEU clearly controls the EU Council, where the seat of power lies in the EU. Now we see that fact confirmed.
Today, interestingly, as the EU crisis approaches epic proportions - we see this article:
"European Council seen as winner under Lisbon Treaty"
Not quite six months in place, the EU's Lisbon Treaty has already led to a significant shift in the Brussels power landscape, with many of its main actors still trying to find their feet in the new order.
The new rulebook, in force since December 2009 after many years of negotiation and then ratification, greatly increases MEPs' co-legislating powers and creates a beefed up foreign policy post and a president of the EU council.
The changes have led to a relative decrease in the power of the European Commission, in past times the engine of EU integration, and the Council of Ministers, representing member states. In contrast, the European Council - the union's collected premiers and presidents and now an institution with its own budget and president - and the parliament are are winning out in the power stakes, say academics.
"The European Council has become the true policy-maker of the European Union," agreed the University of Bologna's Professor Lucia Serena Rossi during a conference discussing the post-Lisbon Treaty EU on Tuesday (25 May).
This is an interesting development. Technically, as a result of the Lisbon Treaty, which functions as the "EU Constitution", the WEU was slated to disband in 2011 - but that is hard to imagine in light of the current crisis. Additionally, in the past, there were discussions about these countries forming their own "union" if the EU were to collapse (these discussions took place when the original constitution was going through the process of ratification, unsuccessfully).
Will the WEU emerge from this crisis in a more powerful position? We already have the WEU leading the EU Council, which by all accounts is the most powerful body within the EU. Will these 10 countries ultimately decide to branch off from the EU? Will the EU "collapse" into these 10 countries? Will more power be given to these 10 countries in efforts to solve the financial crisis?
Only time will tell, but any collection of 10 countries within the EU structure is certainly worth watching. Especially a collection of countries with this much power.