Western European Armaments Group
History & Objectives

WEAG closes on 23 May 2005

History: from the IEPG to the WEAG

In 1976, the Defence Ministers of the European NATO nations (except Iceland) established a forum for armaments cooperation, the Independent European Programme Group (IEPG). The Declaration agreed by the WEU Ministers in Maastricht on 10 December 1991 called for further examination of the possibilities for enhanced cooperation in the field of armaments, with the aim of creating a European Armaments Agency. At their meeting in Bonn in December 1992, the Defence Ministers of the 13 countries of the IEPG decided upon the transfer of the functions of the IEPG to the WEU.

Furthermore they agreed six basic principles for the transfer, principal among which were:

  • All 13 nations should be entitled to participate fully and with the same rights and responsibilities, in any European armaments cooperation forum.
  • There should be a single European armaments cooperation forum.
  • Armaments cooperation in Europe should be managed by the National Armaments Directors of all the 13 nations, who will be accountable to the Ministers of Defence of those governments.
  • The existing links with NATO and EDIG should be maintained.

At the meeting of the WEU Council of Ministers in Rome in May 1993, the Defence Ministers of the IEPG reaffirmed the six key principles on which armaments cooperation should be based, and in particular that all decisions on these matters within the WEU framework should be taken by the 13 nations. They agreed on a number of organizational aspects of the transfer which were subsequently adopted formally by the Council at 13. Since that meeting the WEU armaments cooperation forum has been known as the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG).

At their meeting in Marseille in November 2000, WEAG Defence Ministers agreed to the accession to WEAG full membership of six new nations: Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

WEAG numbers now 19 full members each enjoying the same rights and responsibilities.


The objectives of the WEAG are the following:

  • more efficient use of resources through, inter alia, increased harmonization of requirements;
  • the opening up of national defence markets to cross-border competition;
  • to strengthen the European defence technological and industrial base;
  • cooperation in research and development.

The need for progress towards these objectives has become more pressing in recent years because of reductions in defence budgets and the increasing pace of technological change. Industry is responding by downsizing, restructuring and by rationalization through mergers and joint ventures or exiting from the market. Governments are also responding to ensure that defence requirements can be met in the longer term through access to affordable technology at the necessary level of capability. They are working together to intensify cooperation in the context of the developing European defence identity.


Full Members

    Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom.
Member States
Austria Luxembourg
Belgium The Netherlands
Czech Republic Norway
Denmark Poland
Finland Portugal
France Spain
Germany Sweden
Greece Turkey
Hungary United Kingdom

European Armaments Partnership

In November 1997, at their Erfurt meeting, WEAG Ministers noted the continued interest in WEAG armaments cooperation activities expressed by a number of WEU Observers which are not members of WEAG and WEU Associate Partners and, recalling their agreement at Ostend the year before to examine a European Armaments Partnership, they agreed to respond by further opening the WEAG to those nations. They also agreed on the modalities for the participation of those nations in WEAG activities.

At their meeting in Luxembourg in November 1999, WEAG Defence Ministers, in the light of the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to NATO and their subsequent Associate Membership in WEU, updated the modalities agreed in Erfurt in November 1997. This enabled those nations to participate in WEAG activities. Furthermore Ministers also approved a procedure for full membership of WEAG.

At their meeting in Marseille in November 2000, WEAG Defence Ministers agreed to the accession to WEAG full membership of Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

The modalities agreed at the Erfurt meeting for the participation of interested WEU Associate Partners remain valid. WEAG Panels and their Sub-groups are allowed to examine whether, for each item on the agenda, participation can be opened to Associate Partners. If it is decided that an Associate Partner shall participate in a specific armaments project, the nation concerned shall take part in that project on the same basis as full members, including the contribution of an appropriate financial share.

WEU Associate Partners

© WEAG Page Update: 30 March 2005