840.50 Recovery/6–249: Telegram

The Charge in Belgium (Millard) to the Secretary of State


806. For Harriman. Spaak told us this morning that things were going badly in OEEC. He said this was due directly to British attitude toward Harriman proposal that 10 percent of this year’s Marshall Plan money be placed in a pool for multilateral use. Spaak thought Harriman’s suggestion was sound in principle since it pointed way to return toward more normal methods of trade as contrasted with strict bilateralism which he characterized as a retrograde step. He professed to feel, however, some embarrassment in sustaining Harriman’s proposal because it was obvious that should 10 percent pool be established Belgium would be principal beneficiary thereof. He said experts calculated that this year Belgium would be able to take advantage of perhaps half of the $400,000,000 in pool.

Later in conversation in criticizing British reluctance to see reestablishment of “more normal” trade relations involving direct competition between US and Europe Prime Minister expressed belief that such a return to competitive commerce would on whole be beneficial. This may or may not reflect his acceptance of transferability in proposed 10 percent pool and realization Belgian industry would also have to meet direct US competition. Spaak was speaking this morning more as statesman than as a Belgian politician.

Spaak said quite frankly that British were doing utmost to defeat Harriman’s position and that he did not at all share Cripps’ view nor believe that British argument was other than specious. British in effect were claiming that adoption of pool proposal would force them to increase purchases in gold or dollars. He did not believe facts of case bore out this assertion although it was true that if pool was adopted there would be that much less money available for bilateral use.

Spaak criticized Cripps’ attitude at recent OEEC session when UK had insisted that European Govts consult prior to meeting Harriman [Page 400] and present US with fait accompli. This, said Spaak, placed European powers in ridiculous position of trying to defend an agreed proposal against subsequent US criticism which was well founded instead of participating openly with US in working out a joint position in which all would share responsibility for its formulation.

Spaak said he was meeting Cripps tomorrow in Paris at 9 a. m., and left clear implication he would endeavor to reason with him but was not sanguine as to prospects of altering Cripps’ attitude.

Sent Paris 138, repeated Department 806, London 88.