The Brussels Pact (17 March 1948), also called the Treaty of Brussels or the Brussels Treaty, was initiated by five countries in Western Europe after World War II had weakened much of the military power of these countries. Its aim was to set out terms for economic, social and cultural cooperation, and especially, collective self-defence. The spirit and mandates of the Brussels Pact served as the basis for the establishment of the Western European Union, a defence union similar to NATO but excluding USA and Canada.
The five original countries to sign the treaty in 1948 were France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. It was an international contract signed by each country’s foreign minister at the time to represent their countries. Historical records of the original document can be found and read online at European Navigation, an online digital library of European history.
Building Modern Europe
The Brussels Treaty has been accepted as an historical document that led to increased European cooperation and shared military strength. As more countries joined the alliance, Germany and Italy in 1958 for example, the Treaty gained more importance within Western Europe.
However over time, the area of defence was succeeded by the North Atlantic Treaty 1949, which was the basis for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO currently has its headquarters in Brussels. The Western European Union, established after the Brussels Pact may be absorbed into the European Union, which has expanded its role to include defence and peacekeeping of Europe.
Today, through such initiatives as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) the European Union is becoming a uniting force within Europe. Brussels has become recognised as the Capital of Europe, where important European institutions are based permanently in the European Quarters and all summits are held each year.
The European Union has 27 member states, spanning Western and Eastern Europe, 7 candidate states, its own currency (used by 15 member states) and its own internal border the Schengen Zone. Since the EU is still expanding and developing, there will be more changes for modern Europe in the next century.