840.50 Recovery/3–2048: Telegram

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

us urgent

1506. Rece 19. We submit the following preliminary appraisal of trends in the present CEEC meeting,1 based on our daily contacts with a number of delegates:

[Page 396]

(1) There has been a growing recognition since last summer of the need for intensification of efforts towards economic integration of Western Europe and of the urgency of the problem. The most marked change is in attitude Scandinavian countries, with both Swedish and Danes showing cooperative attitude.

It is encouraging that such advocates of a comprehensive program as Hirschfeld2 and Campilli, who were most critical of last summer’s activities, now believe that things are moving in the right direction.

(2) Our original impression was that British did not in fact want a strong organization. This view was shared by some delegates of other countries. Among points mentioned in this connection were:

Record last summer and in subsequent period during which British maintained cautious attitude re projects which are essential to effective economic unification.
Weak character of British proposal for continuing organization (Embtel 1344, March 14).3
Assignment of Sir Oliver Franks to Washington,4 which has been interpreted as meaning British Government places more reliance on its relationships that city than through CEEC which Franks could undoubtedly have headed on permanent basis.

Original British proposals also appear to have stemmed from their desire to create an organization which would not interfere with handling of major supply and other negotiations bilaterally with Washington, and British proposal that Secretariat do little more than take minutes was presumably desire to keep control of development of organization in own hands. Doubt whether British really believe on basis experience ECO and other organizations that strong organization with continuing responsibilities of semi-operational character can be achieved without stronger Secretariat than they proposed. There has apparently been some shift in the British position, and they have assured us that they do want strong and effective continuing body. British position in working party in coming week will enable us to evaluate situation more accurately.

(3) Selection of Paris as seat of organization is probable. Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and, of course, France appear committed to this selection. With Benelux support for Paris, most [Page 397] likely alternative site, Brussels, appears ruled out. Furthermore, many delegates believe site should be on continent and this concept works against selection London.

(4) Although original thinking of some delegates placed emphasis on relationship with ERP as major purpose of organization, new drafting gives more prominent position to aspect development European economic cooperation. Norway, Turkey and Switzerland have taken position multilateral agreement and organization should conform initial report provision regarding temporary character. Other countries hope this concept can be modified.

Delegates consulted appear to be thinking along lines similar to our position re relationships other international organizations; namely, to use where effective and to keep position flexible.

(5) It is in field of structure and functions of component parts of organization that widest variation of views appears. Turkey (possibly because heretofore it has not been represented on Executive Committee either individually or geographically) appears to want functions exercised in fact by assembly of all members. British attitude has been noted above, although they have recently indicated willingness to compromise. There is a noticeable trend in CEEC towards an organizational framework along following lines:

Council of Ministers with alternates from all participating countries which would meet infrequently.
Executive Committee of five or seven members which would meet frequently and act on matters of policy, as well as maintaining supervisory role over activities Secretary General. Members would be officials responsible for ERP matters in their own countries.

(A variation of this proposal is one made by Monnet5 providing members this committee would be Economic Ministers, such as Cripps, Mayer.6 Their alternates, however, would be of type mentioned above.)

Secretariat General would be headed by person competent to supervise continuous operations. He would sit in Executive Committee meetings and be free to express his views. He would not, however, be permitted to “free wheel” in the Myrdal sense and would be subject to rather detailed directives coming from the frequent meetings of Executive Committee.

With reference to the foregoing, we suggest following modifications US position as set forth document ERP C73/1, March 8.7

That our position re location be that it is entirely matter for CEEC group to determine. We regard this as matter of secondary [Page 398] importance and at this stage our opposition to Paris would probably prove ineffective unless we were prepared to take a very strong stand, supported by considerations of compelling importance.
That we keep an open mind on question position and functions executive committee, concentrating efforts on suggestion that charter be flexible enough to permit Secretariat to develop so that CEEC will in fact be able to perform programming and other functions we have envisaged for it. (It is apparent that large majority of delegates are in no mood to permit framework giving Secretary General all of the authority contemplated by US or by French. In some cases thinking this question may be conditioned by nationalistic considerations. Nevertheless, there are many delegates who feel that the recovery program is so vital to all of them and of such complexity that continuing direction by group of national representatives is required, even though there is a strong Secretariat. If, as appears probable, the Executive Committee is composed of such people as Marjolin, Hammarskjold, Hirschfeld and Campilli, it could be a powerful force in developing a sound program and in persuading home governments to adopt it.)
For the purpose of emphasizing to working party need for adequate Secretariat with competent personnel, it is desirable to give that group as precise and detailed a statement of CEEC programming responsibilities as they relate to ERP as is possible at this time. We are sending a separate telegram on this point.
We are continuing to emphasize US position with delegates here. We suggest also that you may desire to call in British Ambassador reviewing with him our basic concept and emphasizing that we plan to place principal programming responsibility on CEEC, rather than on bilateral discussions with individual countries.

In view of fact that CEEC working party plans complete original drafts by March 26, we should receive Department’s telegraphic comments on points 1, 2, 3 and 4 above not later than March 23.

Our basic conclusion is that CEEC responsibilities and activities will require both a strong Executive Committee and a strong Secretariat, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

  1. The structure of the CEEC conference, March 15–April 16, was rather complicated. The plenary body of foreign ministers actually met only three times: March 15, March 16, and April 16. Otherwise the decision-making power was exercised by a Committee of Alternates, under the chairmanship of Sir Oliver Franks. But even this group did not meet between March 18 and April 14. The actual work of the conference was done by a committee known as the Working Party co-chaired by the United Kingdom and France. There were also three drafting committees. Actually there was an over-lapping membership between the several working components.

    A substantially complete record of the official documentation of the conference exists in Department files: 840.50 Recovery, in the form of delegation lists, orders of the day, agenda, minutes of meetings, working papers, and drafts. These were forwarded to the Department by the Paris Embassy in a series of despatches between March 17 and April 26: 395, March 17; 396, March 17; 410, March 19; 453, March 25; 459, March 26; 460, March 27; 483, April 5; 491, April 7; 504, April 8; 527, April 12; 528, April 12; 537, April 13; 546, April 14; 560, April 16; 566, April 19; 583, April 21; 599, April 22; and 620, April 26.

  2. Hans M. Hirschfeld, The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs.
  3. Telegram 1344 from Paris, March 14, 1948, not printed, contained the text of a memorandum setting forth the British view of a continuing organization (840.50 Recovery/3–1448).
  4. Sir Oliver Franks replaced Lord Inverchapel as the British Ambassador to the United States on June 3, 1948. Ambassador Franks had previously headed the CEEC mission which held the Washington Talks with U.S. officials about the technical aspects of the Paris report in October, 1947.
  5. Jean Monnet, Commissioner General of the French Reequipment and Modernization Plan.
  6. Sir Stafford Cripps, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and René Mayer, French Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.
  7. Not printed.