840.50 Recovery/12–1749: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Murphy) to the Secretary of State


1680. Spaak called on me today for a discussion of his position vis-à-vis OEEC. Department may recall Van Zeeland’s optimism reported in mytel 1659 December 101 both regarding Spaak’s current willingness to undertaking responsibility as well as regards overcoming opposition within OEEC to the appointment. According to Spaak Van Zeeland has not been in direct communication with ECA, and Spaak did not seem to be informed in detail of Van Zeeland’s recent views. There was a note of a man on the outside, admitting with nostalgia, that he is not being kept fully informed. However, he spoke frankly and at length of his determination to go through with it and accept the responsibility provided there is no substantial opposition within the organization which would destroy possibility of accomplishment of the American purpose which he said was so ably outlined to him by Harriman with which he fully agrees. He expressed conviction that the British are steadfast in their opposition to his appointment, but that tactically they have shifted to a position of open neutrality while inducing the Scandinavians to spearhead the opposition (this would seem to be borne out by Stockholm’s 1258 to Department December 151). His conviction on this point is fortified, he said, by Cripps’ recent communication to Spaak in which Cripps made the point that if Spaak accepts it will be necessary for him to resign from his seat in Parliament and retire from Belgian political life. Spaak regards this argument as camouflage, as there is, he declared, no Belgian [Page 463] legal requirement or practice which would necessitate his withdrawal, nor any OEEC requirement. As far as Belgium is concerned, this would be a matter for arrangement with his party and his constituents and he found no reason for concern on either score. What he would like, he said, is to see his appointment during which he would be on leave of absence status from Belgian politics authorized for a six months’ trial period. At the end of that time it would be clear whether the arrangements were justified and workable. If not, he would resume his place in Belgian political life. The British know perfectly well, he said, that he could not afford to amputate himself from political affairs in Belgium for an undertaking which might fail, and in any event terminate in 1952, and their suggestion is merely cover for their opposition. He feels that this issue is a test between the US and UK, and he repeated again that unless something of the sort is done in OEEC, he would take an exceedingly gloomy view of the future.

He was conversant with the French position and felt in his last conversation with Marjolin, that the latter had come round at least partially. There had been a rumor that Jean Monnet2 was back of Marjolin’s original opposition, but Spaak said he had dined with Monnet recently and that the latter had spoken wholeheartedly in favor of Spaak’s appointment and shared the view that unless something were done to revivify OEEC, it would be disastrous.

Spaak said that he proposes to mark time until the results of the Paris meeting December 20 are known, but it [he?] broadly intimated that he hoped the US would do everything it appropriately could in advance of meeting. He had not been informed, he said, in reply to my question of the Secretary’s message to the several governments,3 so I outlined it to him, and will give him a copy of the text.

Balance of conversation which dwelt on other subjects reported in separate communication.4

Sent Department 1680; repeated London 223 personal for Holmes: Paris 306 personal for Harriman; Stockholm 13 personal for Matthews;5 The Hague 115 personal for Chapin;6 and Luxembourg 15 personal for Mesta.7

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Jean Monnet, Commissioner General of the Plan for Modernization and Equipment of France.
  4. i.e., the message sent with the circular telegram of December 13, p. 459.
  5. Not printed.
  6. H. Freeman Matthews, Ambassador in Sweden.
  7. Selden Chapin, Ambassador in the Netherlands.
  8. Perle Mesta, Minister in Luxembourg.