840.00/2–1948: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret
us urgent

919. There follows verbatim text of Benelux note being given French (and presumably British) Governments today.1

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • “I. The Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have examined the British and French proposals of which Mr. Bevin, the Foreign Secretary, constituted himself the interpreter, on January 22 last, in his address in the House of Commons on the subject of the union and the consolidation of Western Europe.

    “The three Governments have received these proposals with great sympathy. In fact, they view with particular satisfaction all efforts towards the consolidation of peace, the reinforcement of the security of the countries of Western Europe and the strengthening of the bonds which already unite them, and they are prepared to make an effective contribution thereto.

  • “II. The three Governments realize that full accomplishment of these aims will require a considerable work of planning. They wish [Page 27] to participate in that work collectively. Therefore, they intend to be represented in the negotiations by a joint delegation, made up of representatives of the three countries. These negotiations should lead to the conclusion of a treaty between the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, which would be signed by the representatives of each of those Governments.
  • “III. The three Governments have decided on the broad outline of their joint attitude with respect to certain of the basic problems raised by the Franco-British proposals, and they consider it advisable to inform the British and French Government thereof.

    “In the first place, it does not seem to them sufficient to take as a model the Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance between Great Britain and France signed on May [March] 4, 1947 (Dunkerque Agreement). In fact, that Agreement contemplates basically mutual assistance in case of armed aggression by Germany or in case of hostilities resulting from concerted action to put an end to the threat constituted by the resumption of a policy of aggression by that country. Now, these hypotheses no longer fully correspond to the realities to which the British Foreign Secretary has alluded.

    “That is why the three Governments believe that an agreement modeled on the Dunkerque Agreement would constitute an inadequate basis for the achievement of the aims to be reached. The pursuit of these aims leads, rather, in their opinion, to envisaging a regional organization of Western Europe under the United Nations Charter.

  • “IV. Not only does this solution have the advantage of being based on a general treaty to which all the principal Powers of the world are parties but it also presents, thanks to the provisions of Articles 51, 52 and 53 of the Charter, all the necessary scope and flexibility. Article 51 permits the organization of legitimate collective defense of the members of the group in case of armed aggression against one of them. Article 52 sanctions regional agreements or bodies intended to settle matters which, affecting the maintenance of international peace and security, lend themselves to action of a regional character encouraging peaceful settlements through such agreements or bodies. Article 53 provides for their use in the application of enforcement measures. These latter require prior authorization by the Security Council, unless they are directed against the resumption by an enemy State of a policy of aggression.

    “A regional organization which strengthens the ties uniting its members, therefore, not only can ensure peace and security within the group but can also guarantee the security of the group with respect to the outside.

    [Page 28]

    “This solution has the advantage of permitting, under the United Nations, the achievement of the various ends which form the basis of the Franco-British proposals.

  • “V. There are, to be sure, among these aims some which appear attainable at this time and others which can be attained only gradually.

    “Among the objective[s] which may be achieved immediately, we should envisage first of all an agreement on the political level, consisting in a promise of mutual assistance.

    “A. By recognizing that the security of each of the members of the regional group concerns that of all, we can lay the foundation for a possible collective application of Article 51 of the Charter. On this point, the Inter-American Treaty of Mutual Assistance concluded at Rio on September 2, 1947 established the principles in Article 3, paragraph 1, that an armed attack by any State against an American State will be considered as an attack against all the American States, and that, consequently, all the contracting parties undertake to oppose the attack in virtue of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

    “In the opinion of the three Governments, this mutual aid in case of armed aggression, authorized by Article 51, must be automatic and immediate.

    “B. In addition, the agreement should provide for concerted action in case of resumption of a policy of aggression on the part of Germany or of any State acting directly or indirectly with that country. It should ensure the automatic launching of mutual aid in case such concerted action should involve any one of the contracting parties in hostilities with Germany or with any State joining in her action directly or indirectly.

    “C. Lastly, any action or any situation constituting a threat to the peace or security of Western Europe should immediately give rise to consultations with a view to averting it by mutual agreement. A system of regular and periodic consultations on all problems of common interest should also be instituted. Such a system becomes necessary as soon as mutual aid is made the rule. However, the three Governments do not believe that they should propose the procedure for such consultations at this time. This is the substance of the principal provisions which should comprise the political agreement to be concluded.

    “The three Governments cannot conceive of a regional organization of Western Europe without their taking part in working out the policies to be followed and the measures to be taken with respect to Germany.

  • “VI. The political agreement which has just been considered ought to be supplemented, if it is to have full value, by military agreements on the one hand and by economic agreements on the other hand.
  • “VII. The military agreements govern the implementation of the political agreement. The three Governments do not intend to go into [Page 29] the details with respect to what such military agreements should contain. That question should be studied directly by the general staffs of the countries concerned.
  • “VIII. The three Governments deem it indispensable to cement any agreement of a political character by agreements of an economic nature. In this connection, the ultimate goal for which the regional group should strive is full economic and customs union. If the three Governments consider that such a union cannot be achieved immediately, they nevertheless consider it essential immediately to make the economic policies of the members of the group convergent and to take all possible measures for increasing the prosperity and ensuring the economic security of the group. In view of the importance attached by the three Governments to giving a solid economic basis to the regional group, they think that an early conference of its members should study the measures of coordination to be taken, in particular the establishment of permanent organization permitting continuing consultation to be held on all questions connected with their economic relations, in the study of which consideration would be given to the resources of their over-seas territories.
  • “IX. The proposals of the British and French Governments discussed in the address of the British Foreign Secretary have brought forth a great hope, which it is important not to disappoint. The idea of a strong Western Europe to ensure peace, but without cherishing any aggressive thought against anyone, is an idea which opens up a way full of promise.”
  1. The American Chargé in Belgium, Millard, informed the Department in his telegram 371, February 19, not printed, that Spaak had given copies of the Benelux note to the British and French on receipt of their proposal (840.00/2–1948).