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Mistrust and the early treaties

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Relations deteriorated between the victorious Allies and the Soviet Union following the end of the Second World War. Fears of German rearmament led to the Dunkirk Treaty of 1947 for Anglo-French military cooperation, and in March 1948, the Brussels Treaty between Britain, France and the Benelux countries was signed. The treaty guaranteed British military assistance from a hostile resurgent Germany.

In April 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was created in Washington. By 1950 however, Britain was anxious to accelerate rearmament, the French found German rearmament unacceptable and the US was arguing that West Germany should contribute to defence.

European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

In April 1951 Britain boycotted the Treaty of Paris that created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). France, Germany, Italy and the three Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (known as the 'Inner Six') signed. France issued a 24-hour ultimatum for Britain to attend ECSC talks but Britain opted out.

European Defence Community (EDC)

<<René Pleven>>, the French Premier, proposed the creation of the European Defence Community (EDC), which would pool military resources among the members. The 'Inner Six' (France, West Germany, Italy and the three Benelux countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) signed the treaty in May 1952. Britain did not join. The EDC collapsed in 1954 when France failed to ratify the treaty.

Western European Union (WEU)

The British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, took the initiative and established the Western European Union (WEU) as an alternative to the EDC. Britain agreed to maintain a military presence in West Germany, who became a member through the expansion of the Brussels Pact. West Germany became a full member of NATO in 1955.