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The Assembly is supported by a relatively small secretariat in Brussels with a Secretary General, one professional officer responsible for each substantive committee, a few other administrative officers, some "stagieres" or interns and a support staff. The annual budget of the Assembly has increased gradually over the years and for financial year 1978 totaled 36,066,000 Belgian Francs, or approximately $1,110,000. This budget is financed by member contributions and a small contribution from the NATO budget (which of course, also comes from the treasuries of member countries). The United States pays 24.20 percent of the member contributions-a sum of approximately $262,000 for 1978.3

See appendix B for a display of the distribution of shares among the members and the amounts for each

in 1978.


Throughout its history, the Assembly has sought to define a role for itself both in relation to other parliamentary assemblies and in terms of its standing with regard to NATO and to national governments. In 1979, that search has still not come to a conclusion.


During the institution-building of the 1950's, a number of organizations were created with the intention of serving the common interests of the European nations or the Atlantic community. To some extent, these institutions were created to deal with a specific problem or set of problems, and it was not possible at the time to foresee areas of duplication or to predict how various institutions would grow-or wither-over time. This was just as true of interparliamentary bodies as it was of intergovernmental bodies.

Following the establishment of the Assembly, much consideration was given to various ways of "rationalizing" intra-European and Atlantic parliamentary forums. The most important of the organizations scrutinized for rationalization were the European Parliament (the parliamentary body which is part of the European Community structure); the Assembly of the Western European Union (established in 1954 after attempts to form a European Defense Community failed); the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe (established in 1949, unrelated to the European Community or NATO, including neutrals as well as NATO members, and aimed at promoting European cooperation in a broad range of economic and social questions); and, of course, the NATO Parliamentarians' Conference (now, the North Atlantic Assembly).

Even in the mid-1960's, however, it was clear that there were major political and technical obstacles to eliminating overlap and consolidating these various efforts, for example, into one "European" assembly and one "Atlantic" assembly. As one author observed in a book pub

lished in 1966:

It is apparent from even a cursory survey of the political factors that major obstacles will confront any early renewal of efforts to establish a consultative Atlantic Assembly or to rationalize in other ways the existing interparliamentary arrangements.1

1 Hovey, J. Allan Jr. The Superparliaments, Interparliamentary Consultation and Atlantic Cooperation. Praeger (New York) 1966, p. 182.

There continues in 1979 to be a certain amount of apparent duplication of effort and overlap among the various interparliamentary bodies. The conclusion of this report, however, is that this overlap is not concern for undue alarm. The fact that it has not been possible to create fewer bodies to consolidate the activities of current organizations merely reflects the fact that there is not sufficient political unity either within the Atlantic community or within Western Europe to allow such consolidation. While this fact may be regretable, it is not a situation that can be changed by rationalization of parliamentary assemblies.

In addition, most overlap that exists is in contacts among West European parliamentarians, and not in the Atlantic framework. Most Europeans acknowledge that the Assembly of the Western European Union seems the most superfluous of these bodies. But there is support for keeping this body alive because it provides a forum for a "European" discussion of security issues. If the European Community's mandate ever were expanded to include security issues, then most Europeans would readily agree that the security issues now handled by the WEU Assembly could be transferred to the European Parliament. But that day has not yet come. The Council of Europe remains unique because it includes European countries which are not members of the European Community or NATO. In addition, it has carved out a reputation for itself as democracy's "ombudsman" in Western Europe.

The North Atlantic Assembly, for all its defects, plays a unique role. The Assembly is the only body that regularly brings together members of the United States Congress and members of the Canadian and European parliaments for the express purpose of discussing the Atlantic Alliance. In recent years, some members of the U.S. Congress have sponsored an exchange of visits with members of the European Parliament. As valuable as this exchange may be, it does not serve as an alternative to the North Atlantic Assembly simply because the European Parliament has no mandate to discuss defense issues. If and when the European Parliament obtains such competence it would make sense to examine Atlantic parliamentary contacts with an eye toward rationalization. But until such time, this report concludes that U.S. congressional participation both in the North Atlantic Assembly and in contacts with members of the European Parliament can make constructive contributions to American interests and United StatesEuropean relations.


The role of the Assembly has also been examined in terms of its internal operations and its relationships to NATO and to national governments. Throughout most of the Assembly's history, the Assembly's leadership has sought to create a more formal link between the Assembly and NATO. As was mentioned earlier, some of the Assembly founders desired from the outset that the Assembly become NATO's consultative assembly. In other words, they hoped that the organization could become a formal part of the NATO structure, with responsibility for scrutinizing NATO programs, offering advice, and presumably exercising at least some minimal powers.

Some major technical and political obstacles confronted this goal. The North Atlantic Treaty made no provision for a parliamentary role in NATO. Amending the treaty to create a consultative assembly would have been a laborious procedure, and there was little inclination on the part of NATO governments to undertake such a process. Various attempts were made in the early 1960's to win support for adding a protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty or drawing up a new international agreement to give the parliamentarians' group a formal standing in the alliance. But any of these routes would have required the unanimous consent of the NATO governments, and the French in particular were opposed to the idea and few allied governments showed much enthusiasm.

In the late 1960's, the Assembly concentrated on trying to convince the North Atlantic Council and the NATO Secretary General to take fuller account of the actions and desires of the Assembly. A certain degree of success was registered in 1968 when the Council first commented on the Assembly's resolutions and recommendations from the previous year. These steps, however, were far from the institutionalized role the Assembly had sought.

The Assembly's attempt to win a formal role in the NATO structure continued into the 1970's. When the Assembly convened in Ottawa in September 1971, a proposal by Senator Jacob Javits was adopted to appoint a committee of nine prominent parliamentarians to conduct a thorough study of the Alliance, including an assessment of the role of the Assembly. As part of this effort, an advisor to the Canadian delegation, Peter Dobell, was asked to report on the Assembly's future role. Dobell recommended that the Assembly "change its public image of being NATO-oriented so as to be able to attract parliamentarians interested in the broader range of other trans-Atlantic issues. In order to do this he advocated that the Assembly renounce its long-sought goal of having a consultative status with NATO." 2


The Assembly rejected Dobell's approach in the belief that "the loss of this close association .. could only lessen the authority of the Assembly's conclusions." The Assembly went on, as a conclusion of its study, to recommend that the goal of greater institutionalization be pursued further while attempting to improve the internal operations and external impact of the Assembly.

In the course of interviews conducted with European parliamentarians in February and March of 1978, there emerged almost no support for continuing this long-term search for a formal role for the Assembly in the NATO structure. Even some of the members who had been most deeply involved in past efforts to achieve this status for the Assembly seemed to have given up on this apparently futile task.

It now appears that further attempts to win an institutionalized role in NATO are not a promising use of the time and energy of the Assembly. At the same time, the fact that the Assembly is the only interparliamentary body that deals in detail with Atlantic security issues argues strongly for keeping the focus of the Assembly's work on the broad range of political, military, economic, and social factors that affect the security of the members. And, the Assembly should continue to nurture close and harmonious relations with the NATO structure, including the NATO Secretary General and his staff.

2 Goodman, Elliot. The Fate of the Atlantic Community. Praeger (New York) 1975, p. 561. • Ibid.


If the Assembly finally abandons the search for a formal role in NATO, however, it then is faced with an identity crisis. This identity crisis has already been the focus for debate among Assembly members. The issue can be summarized briefly: Some members feel strongly that the Assembly should become a truly representative body of parliamentarians from the NATO countries; some other members feel that the Assembly should continue to include essentially those parliamentarians who are strongly supportive of NATO.*

Those members of parliament who argue that the Assembly should become a truly representative body feel that the conscious effort that has been made over the years to exclude from national delegations members of parties that are critical of NATO has undermined the credibility of the Assembly as a democratic reflection of political realities in the countries of the Alliance. They argue that since the main benefit of the Assembly is the debate that takes place in the committees and in informal discussions, everyone would gain from inclusion of members of parliament who take different approaches to many issues confronting the Alliance.

Other members of parliament point out that a decision to make the Assembly a more accurate reflection of the national parliaments of the member states would mean essentially the inclusion of Communist delegates. They believe that Communist participation in the Assembly can only undermine the purposes of the Assembly and of the Alliance. They are concerned in particular that Communist participation would cut off the Assembly from its usual contacts with NATO officials, would restrict the flow of information to the Assembly from NATO and U.S. military authorities, and would particularly hamper the work of the Assembly's Military Committee.

In my discussions with parliamentarians, there was no consensus concerning the desirability or undesirability of including Communists in the work of the Assembly. There was a general consensus, however, that the Assembly could no longer prevent a national delegation from including Communists if the national parliament so decided.

There would be some limited risks associated with Communist participation in the Assembly. These mainly relate to the danger that NATO and U.S. military authorities might not be as forthcoming in providing information to the Assembly and its committees as they are at present. Very few sources, however, thought that this possibility would restrict the Assembly's work in any substantial way. Most sources think that the Assembly does not in any case receive particularly sensitive information, and that the problem might in fact be limited to restrictions on information that would be provided to any Communist participants in the Assembly's annual "military


The Assembly may not, however, be able to avoid Communist participation; therefore there is a persuasive case that, on balance, it is better to make virtue out of necessity, and to opt for a new role as the Atlantic Alliance's representative assembly of parliamentarians rather than to remain subject to characterization as a parliamentarian's NATO "club."

See appendix C for a portrayal of the political composition of the national delegations to the 1977 Assembly session compared with the political composition of the parent parliaments.

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