European Defence Timeline     Print Email
Saturday, 14 November 2009

February – October 2011: Eleven EU countries, headed by Britain and France, participate in NATO-led intervention resulting in overthrow of Gaddafi regime. EU Common Foreign and Security Policy not invoked.

2 November 2010: Britain and France sign two Defence and Security Co-operation treaties with provisions on shared aircraft carriers, joint nuclear weapons work, joint training and shared in-air refueling tankers.

Fall 2009: Lisbon Treaty ratified; it will streamline EU decision-making on some security issues.

1 April 2009: Albania and Croatia become NATO members, the organization now boasts 28 member states.

11 March 2009: French President Nicolas Sarkozy announces officially France’s return to NATO’s integrated military command structure.

8 December 2008: European Union Council decides to start the operation EU NAVFOR Somalia in order to fight against piracy acts along the coast of Somalia.

13 December 2007: In response to the failure of the European Constitution, the EU member states sign the Lisbon Treaty, or Reform Treaty. If ratified, the post of High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy would be merged with that of the European Commissioner for External Relations, under the new title of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

18 October 2007: The Defence Ministers of France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands sign a Treaty in Velsen establishing the European Gendarmerie Force.

15 October 2007: The EU Council decides to create EUFOR Tchad/RCA, with the aim "to take all necessary measures, within its capabilities and its area of operation in eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic" to protect civilians, facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid, and ensure the safety of UN personnel.

27 April 2006: EU Council decides to create EUFOR RD Congo, for a temporary deployment of an EU force to support the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

29 October 2004: The Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe is signed by the 25 member states of the European Union. It reiterates that the European Union is charged with defining a common foreign and security policy in due time.

12 July 2004: The European Defence Agency is created “to support the Member States and the Council in their effort to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy as it stands now and develops in the future”.

12 July 2004: The European Union Council decides to create EUFOR Althea, a military deployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina to oversee the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Agreement.  EUFOR Althea replaced the NATO led SFOR (Stabilization Force) on 2 December 2004.

12-13 December 2003: During a European Council meeting in Brussels, the European Union adopts the European Security Strategy, defining three main strategic aims: facing threats, building security in the neighboring states, and establishing an international order based on a successful multilateralism.

31 March 2003: During a sixth month period, with the peacekeeping operation ‘Concordia’, the European Union takes over from NATO’s ‘Allied Harmony’ mission in Macedonia.

16 December 2002: The Berlin Plus Agreement is signed between NATO and the European Union. A comprehensive agreement with seven parts, it included among them the ability for the European Union to draw on some of NATO’s assets for its own peacekeeping operations.

21-22 November 2002: During the NATO summit in Prague, it was agreed that the following seven states could begin talks towards accession: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The seven officially become members of NATO on 29 March 2004.

11 March 2002: The European Union Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina is created, with the aim of reforming local police forces and helping in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

20 July 2001: The European Union Institute for Security Studies is created by the European Union Council.

7-9 December 2000: During the European Council Meeting in Nice, the member states adopt the French report on the European Security and Defence Policy. This includes the formal establishment of the European Union Military Committee, a department of military officials under the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also includes the decision to turn the Political and Security Committee into a permanent body, in charge of Common Foreign and Security issues.

20-21 November 2000: The European Union, during a Capabilities Commitment Conference in Brussels, obtains a military commitment from all member states, bar Denmark, to fulfill the 1999 Helsinki Headline Goal. This marks the first step of the European Rapid Reaction Force.

13 November 2000: Ministerial Conference of the Western European Union in Marseille takes a number of decisions that include: integrating operational competence of the Western European Union into the European Union; creating a satellite centre, in the shape of an agency within the EU (integrating the elements of the satellite centre of the WEU in Torrejon, Spain), in order to provide the EU with autonomy in the field of spatial observation.

10 July 2000: The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company is created, following the merger of several European companies.

11-12 December 1999: The European Council Meeting in Helsinki defines the so-called Helsinki Headline Goal, a military capability target set for 2003. It includes the decision to create political and military structures to allow the European Union to intervene in crises within the frame of the European Security and Defence Policy, the decision to develop an autonomous defence force of up to fifty-sixty thousand soldiers (but not the creation of a European Army) that would be capable of achieving the full range of the 1992 Petersberg tasks.

4-5 June 1999: The European Council meeting in Cologne further strengthens the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar by establishing the European Security and Defence Policy, by deciding to incorporate the role of the Western European Union within the EU, and by declaring that the EU “must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO” (as claimed in St Malo by France and the United Kingdom).

12 March 1999: The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary become NATO members.

4 December 1998: The St Malo summit between the United Kingdom and France, and the ensuing declaration, marks a key turning point for European defence. The United Kingdom lifts its previous veto, recognising that the European Union has a legitimate role to deal with defence questions.

2 October 1997: The Amsterdam Treaty is signed by the then fifteen European Union member states. The Treaty strengthens the Common Foreign and Security Policy by including the 1992 Petersberg Tasks, by planning for the eventual integration of the Western European Union into the EU, and by creating the position of High Representative for EU foreign policy.

12 November 1996: Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom agree to create the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation.

3-4 June 1996: During the NATO ministerial meeting in Berlin, the Alliance formally pledges to support the creation of a European Security and Defence Identity within the NATO structures. The then 16 NATO member states agree to provide some NATO assets to support any operation led by the Western European Union.

1995-1997: French President Jacques Chirac tries to bargain a French return into NATO’s integrated military command structure, in exchange for certain concessions. That attempt would ultimately fail.

14 November 1994: During the NATO conference in Noordwijk (Netherlands), the idea of a European Security and Defence Identity is put forward, with the aim of encouraging the European Union to strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance.

19 June 1992: The Council of the Western European Union, during a meeting in the Hotel Petersberg near Bonn, defines the series of military tasks (Petersberg Tasks) that the European Union and the Western European Union is empowered to do. These include humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and crisis management tasks including peacemaking.

7 February 1992: The Maastricht Treaty is signed by the then twelve members of the European Economic Community, leading to the creation of the European Union, with the Common Foreign and Security Policy as one of its three main pillars.

31 March 1991: The Warsaw Pact is dissolved.

2 August 1990-28 February 1991: The first Gulf War; France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Norway, and the United Kingdom are part of the broad coalition fighting against Iraq.

7 March 1966: In a letter to American President Lyndon Johnson, Charles de Gaulle announces that while France would remain a member of the Atlantic Alliance, it had decided to withdraw from NATO’s integrated military command structure.

3 November 1961: French President General Charles de Gaulle proposes the Fouchet Plan, which aims to establish wider intergovernmental cooperation in the fields of defence, foreign policy and economy between the six member states of the EEC. The Plan was rejected the following year.

27 March 1957: The Rome Treaties are signed by France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, establishing EURATOM and the European Economic Community

9 May 1955: West Germany joins NATO. Five days later, and as a formal response, the Warsaw Pact is created, including the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Albania and East Germany.

23 October 1954: In response to the failure of the European Defence Community, the five signatories of the 1948 Treaty of Brussels, along with West Germany, Italy, the United States and Canada, meet in London and Paris to solve the thorny question of Germany re-armament. The nine states agree to amend the Treaty of Brussels, allowing for the accession of West Germany and Italy. The Western Union Defence Organization is also renamed the Western European Union.

30 August 1954: Opposition from the Gaullist and deputies leads the French Parliament to fail to ratify the European Defence Community Treaty.

27 May 1952: The European Defence Community Treaty is signed by France, Italy, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

24 October 1950: French President of the Council Rene Pleven puts forward the Pleven Plan. In response to American calls for the re-armament of West Germany, Pleven suggests the creation of a supranational European army within a European Defence Community.

4 April 1949: The North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington, DC, bringing NATO into existence. This military alliance, meant to counter the threat of the Soviet Union, includes the five signatories of the Treaty of Brussels, along with the United States, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Italy.

17 March 1948: The Treaty of Brussels is signed by Belgium, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg, as an expansion of the Dunkirk Treaty. A mutual European defence pact against any future German attack, it leads to the creation, in September 1948, of a military agency under the name of the Western Union Defence Organization.

4 March 1947: The Dunkirk Treaty is signed between France and the United Kingdom, as deterrence against any future German attack.

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UMD Jean Monnet Research Project

Infrastructure Planning and Financing: Lessons from Europe and the United States

The University of Maryland has received a Jean Monnet grant from the EU to conduct a series of policy exchanges between Europe and the US on filling infrastructure needs and the utility of public/private partnerships as the financing mechanism. If interested in participating in or receiving more information about these exchanges, please contact Rye McKenzie (

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The Bertelsmann Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC with a transatlantic perspective on global challenges.

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