Monday

3rd Oct 2022

European defence league poised for debate on dormant pact

A group of the EU's major foreign policy players is waiting to find out what happens to the Lisbon Treaty before deciding if it should keep or scrap an old "musketeer" defence pact.

The security pact is found in Article V of the Modified Brussels Treaty, created in 1954 at the height of the Cold War.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Illustration from an 1894 edition of Dumas' book "The Three Musketeers" (Photo: Wikipedia)

"If any of the high contracting parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other high contracting parties will ...afford the party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power," it states.

The contracting parties are EU and Nato member states France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Greece.

The pact is similar to Nato's Article 5, which is sometimes called the musketeer clause as it echoes the "all for one, one for all" motto of the protagonists in Alexandre Dumas' novel The Three Musketeers.

The Brussels Treaty is significant because it is the only European defence pact in existence.

In terms of legal theory, if a Nato and Brussels Treaty member state was attacked and the US-led Nato alliance failed to honour its musketeer clause, the country could instead invoke the Brussels Treaty as a back-up.

In practice, the scenario is unthinkable due to Nato's political and operational importance.

But the 1954 treaty is also significant because some of its 10 parties are interested in keeping it alive so that Article V could in future be used as the basis of a new EU-level defence pact, a source at the Western European Union (WEU) told EUobserver.

Don't throw out the baby with the bath water

The WEU is the largely-dormant institution in charge of implementing the Brussels Treaty. It costs €13.4 million a year to run, has 65 staff at offices in Brussels and Paris and is chaired by EU foreign relations chief Javier Solana.

The WEU expects its 10 member states to hold talks on its future in the few months after the fate of the Lisbon Treaty becomes clear.

One option is to scrap the WEU secretariat but to keep the Brussels Treaty intact as a legally-binding agreement, so that Article V lies ready to hand.

If the Irish referendum on 2 October says "yes" to Lisbon, ratification could follow before 2010. A No result could unravel the Lisbon Treaty, with no official EU plan B.

Framing a European defence

The Lisbon Treaty does not contain a European defence pact. But Lisbon would give EU member states a mandate to progressively frame "a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence."

An EU official told this website that if the Brussels Treaty musketeer clause is in future put forward as the basis of a new EU defence pact, it would need to be rephrased to reflect post-Cold War sensibilities.

"If it was ever transposed into an EU treaty, it would have to be different language. It's in the past. Times have changed," the EU official said.

Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy

"[…] We were astonished that on election day, the high representative for Bosnia imposed significant further changes to the constitution,"German MEP Andreas Schieder, head of the European Parliament election observation delegation to Bosnia said on Monday.

Exclusive

EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning

The European watchdog for systemic economic risk last week warned of "severe" threats to financial stability — but internal notes show top-level officials expressed "strong concerns" over the "timing" of such a warning, fearing publication could further destabilise financial markets.

Opinion

EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson's words on refugee protection were welcome. But, worryingly, the commitments made by EU leaders at the forum have not translated into action. There is still time for them to save face — but it's running out.

Exclusive

EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning

The European watchdog for systemic economic risk last week warned of "severe" threats to financial stability — but internal notes show top-level officials expressed "strong concerns" over the "timing" of such a warning, fearing publication could further destabilise financial markets.

News in Brief

  1. Czechs warn joint-nationality citizens in Russia on mobilisation
  2. Greece to unveil proposal for capping EU gas prices
  3. Four dead, 29 missing, after dinghy found off Canary Islands
  4. Orbán: German €200bn shield is start of 'cannibalism in EU'
  5. Lithuania expels top Russian diplomat
  6. Poland insists on German WW2 reparations
  7. Russia halts gas supplies to Italy
  8. Bulgaria risks hung parliament after inconclusive vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Last-minute legal changes to Bosnian election law stir controversy
  2. EU wants probe into alleged Nagorno-Karabakh war crimes
  3. EU officials were warned of risk over issuing financial warning
  4. EU debates national energy plans amid calls for more coordination
  5. What Modi and Putin’s ‘unbreakable friendship’ means for the EU
  6. EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges
  7. Cities and regions stand with citizens and SMEs ahead of difficult winter
  8. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us