ECA Telegram Files, FRC Acc. No. 53A278
Paris Repto: Telegram

The United States Special Representative in Europe (Harriman) to the Administrator for Economic Cooperation (Hoffman)


Repto 2210. For Hoffman and Lovett1 from Harriman. In course of long conversation which I had with Spaak2 in Brussels January 8, he rehearsed recent OEEC developments and expressed hope that announcement might be made within current month as to meeting of OEEC council at ministerial level to consider report on long-term program around February 10 with simultaneous meeting of Committee of Nine appointed last October to recommend strengthening OEEC structure.

Spaak said he had been highly incensed at British attitude3 which resulted in decision to approve interim long-term report at delegate level without ministerial meeting and to take no action for present to call together Committee of Nine. He expressed his feeling forcibly to British Ambassador Brussels4 going to extent of stating that his own continued association with OEEC was at stake. As result, Cripps5 sent Makins6 to see Spaak January 7. Makins described British attitude to Spaak as follows:

British favor meetings at ministerial level, but feel that, in this case, delay in completing long-term report coupled with exigencies of timetable date for making it available to ECA meant that ministerial meeting if held could have done no more than give rubber stamp approval and hence have been futile gesture (Spaak and I agree that this argument has merit though Spaak feels British delegate was to some extent responsible for delay). British propose ministerial meeting soon after January 31 when new proposals based on long-term report are due.
British desire to go slowly in effecting changes in OEEC structure. Cripps does not favor the giving of executive authority to single political personality along lines suggested by Spaak; he thinks that personality on leaving national post would lose political influence (neither Spaak nor I agree on this: if personality of suitable stature were chosen his influence would grow in international position). [Page 370] Cripps’ thinking, in order to get political direction which he agrees council should have, runs along line of creating high-level committee composed of perhaps Spaak (chairman), Cripps and Schuman7 (with perhaps one or two others), pledged to meet in Paris regularly and frequently.

Spaak feels encouraged at these evidences of British constructive thinking. Cripps in recent conversation with Finletter8 confirms this and gives reassurance of continued determination of Cripps to strengthen OEEC, but only after thorough consideration of means promising most effective results. Spaak plans to talk with Cripps at time of meeting next Western Union council in London January 20–26. He plans to call ministerial level OEEC meeting early in February. He will draft a scheme to discuss with Schuman and Cripps, and if they concur, to lay before Committee of Nine incorporating Cripps thought of a small political committee meeting frequently, including however, permanent representative of that committee to follow through on decisions at Paris. He will send me copy of his draft.

I told Spaak that, as I had often said before, the method by which political direction is brought into OEEC is a matter for European decision. But I emphasized in the strongest terms my agreement with him on the need for such direction on a continuing, energetic basis and described the embarrassing and potentially dangerous situation in which ECA would be placed vis-à-vis Congress in forthcoming presentation if obliged to report absence of progress in this vital field. Both Spaak and I agreed that payments scheme and long-term report were illustrations of ability of technicians to reach agreements on language which do not solve but only conceal temporarily wide political and therefore fundamental divergencies.

I am seeing Schuman January 10 and Cripps in course this week at both their requests.9 Cripps is coming to Paris January 20 to discuss with French ministers economic relations and attempt compose present divergent approach to solution European recovery problems.

I found Spaak in fine form and feel much encouraged at prospects of British cooperation.

  1. Robert A. Lovett, Acting Secretary of State.
  2. Paul-Henri Spaak, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium; President of the Council of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation.
  3. On January 7 Ambassador Kirk had reported from Brussels that Spaak felt that the British did not understand that the Marshall Plan concerned the needs of Europe as a whole and not merely the restoration of the British economy. (Telegram 31, not printed, 840.50 Recovery/1–749)
  4. Sir George William Rendel.
  5. Sir Stafford Cripps, British Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  6. Roger Mellor Makins, Deputy Under-Secretary of State in the British Foreign Office.
  7. Robert Schuman, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  8. Thomas K. Finletter, Chief of the ECA Mission in the United Kingdom.
  9. In telegram Repto 2226 from Paris, January 10, not printed, Harriman reported that Schuman was “emphatically of the opinion that OEEC must be strengthened through supplying of direction at political level” and that Schuman planned to discuss the matter with Spaak, Foreign Secretary Bevin, and Cripps at the Western Union council meetings later in the month. (ECA Telegram Files, FRC Acc. No. 53A278, Paris Repto)