An Ad hoc Study Group was created in March 1993 in order to examine all matters related to the possible creation of a European Armaments Agency (EAA). This remit stemmed from the WEU Maastricht Declaration which spoke of the requirement to examine further "proposals for enhanced cooperation in the field of armaments with the aim of creating a European armaments agency". The Group has concluded that although conditions do not yet exist for the creation of an agency conducting the full range of procurement activities on behalf of WEAG nations, there may be potential in individual areas for improvements in the conduct of cooperative business through a body having a legal personality. A number of tasks which are considered potentially feasible for an agency have been identified.
The work of the Ad Hoc Study Group led to agreements by Ministers on 18/19 November 1996 to establish the Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) as a WEU subsidiary body.
The WEAO shares the international legal personality of WEU and therefore provides the necessary legal framework for such cooperative armaments activities as WEAG Ministers assign to it.
The WEAO initially performs the task of managing executive functions in Research and Technology projects.
In November 1997, at their Erfurt meeting, WEAG Ministers discussed how progress could be made towards more effective European armaments cooperation using the aim of a European armaments agency as a means to better coordinate European efforts. They agreed that a plan, including a timetable, should be developed to guide further steps.
The "Masterplan for the the European Armaments Agency" was developed in 1998. At their meeting in Rome on 17 November 1998 Ministers agreed on the Masterplan as the basis for further development and actions towards the EAA and welcomed the establishment of a Group of National Experts for the performance of studies and further development of the Masterplan.
The aim of the agreed Masterplan was to develop the necessary rules and regulations as well as the structure and working procedures for the EAA, so as to allow Ministers to decide in 2001 about the implementation of the European Armaments Agency.
At their meeting in Rome on 16 May 2002, Ministers endorsed the concept of an evolutionary process, envisaging the establishment of an EAA as soon as all appropriate conditions are met and political consensus is reached, and agreed that any outstanding work should continue under the direction of NADS.
Defence Ministers agreed to examine the assignment of additional functions to WEAO, to be determined after appropriate study based on the work already completed in the development of the Masterplan.