London Embassy Files, Lot 58F47, 500 Marshall Plan: Telegram

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


[Repto 8075.]1 Sent Dept Repto 8075 rptd London Repto 1132 Brussels Repto 496 Vienna Repto 632. Dept eyes only for Hoffman and Foster please pass eyes only for Secretary; London eyes only for Holmes and Kenney; Brussels eyes only for Murphy and Nuveen; Vienna eyes only for Erhardt2 to convey eyes only for Harriman; pouched Paris Repto 256 eyes only for Bruce and Bingham.3

OEEC Consultative Group meeting yesterday was featured by morning session in which Harriman reacted strongly to Schuman-Cripps attempt completely emasculate Secretary’s proposal for strengthening organization at political level. Vigorous restatement US position as reflected in Secretary’s message resulted in recovery, on paper at least, of considerable ground in afternoon and development of working papers described below which will be further considered and discussed at next Consultative group meeting to be held about middle January (two weeks prior scheduled Council meeting at ministerial level). Terms this working paper with further improvements would enable person selected to function on satisfactory lines, if, and this is most important “if”, it reflected really convinced support on part govts concerned. Van Zeeland is to discuss paper informally and personally with Spaak. Those present at meeting were Van Zeeland, Schuman, Cripps, Pella of Italy, Castro Fernandez of Port, Lange and Broness of Norway and Swiss Rapporteur. (Neths and Greece not represented.)

Agreement also reached that Consultative Group should after January meet monthly on first Wed each month (president being authorized vary date if necessary) and that two vice presidents of Council (MacBride of Eire and Grubber of Austria) be asked to sit with group in addition, of course to chairman Executive Committee, chairman of Council at level and Secretary General.

Evening prior to meeting Van Zeeland gave dinner for his European colleagues who, presumably led by Cripps, disposed of Van Zeeland proposal (see Repto circr 4174) and charged Schuman with presenting [Page 465] statement of collective views at meeting next morning. Thus paper which Van Zeeland had circulated for consideration of group were completely eliminated before meeting began. Van Zeeland made no attempt bring discussion back to his paper. Schuman’s statement began by setting forth that consensus of his colleagues as that proposed “personality” (1) should not intervene with or take action with member govt because these governments are appropriately represented at ministerial level in regular OEEC bodies; (2) should not have any power of decision but should confine himself to “dynamic liaison”; and (3) should not have authority over Secretary Gen or Secretariat personnel. Schuman then asked: “what remains”? He answered this by stating that there would remain rep functions outside organization such as relations with US, non member countries and international organizations. He again made clear that he did not contemplate that proposed personality would have functions vis-à-vis organization. He added that proposed personality might attend meetings on consultative basis, that services of Secretariat would be at his disposal and that he would have an international status (privileges and immunities) similar to that of other OEEC officials.

Cripps supported Schuman’s proposal and suggested that document embodying it be made basic text for discussion. It must be underlined that Cripps position was in direct conflict with what Bevin and Attlee told Douglas was position of Brit Govt’s; namely one of neutrality and of going along with wishes other members provided no change in convention involved. Harriman finally queried Cripps on this by private note and received unsatisfactory reply.

Cripps desired functions of proposed personality further limited in sense that he should not have obligations as to making of agreements and that availability to him of services of Secretariat refer specifically to Secretarial services. Cripps further urged that proposed personality should not occupy any other political post either in his own country or in connection with any other international organization.

There was considerable further talk about incompatibility of proposed position with other positions and a number of hairs were split to general satisfaction. Port representative agreed with Cripps and asked that specific mention of “Council of Europe” as one of international organizations be omitted. Ital and Nor reps also intervened in debate without making major contribution at this stage.

Harriman then stated that discussion had left him in state great confusion and bewilderment. He had thought group was to consider Van Zeeland’s proposal and formal representation made by Secretary of State to member govts for purpose of strengthening OEEC. He reviewed Secy’s message quoting copiously therefrom. He concluded that proposal under discussion (Schuman document) was wholly unrelated [Page 466] to objective sought. He said that proposed personality would be of no use if he could not discuss proposals and compose differences among member govts and even contribute to negotiating agreements among them. As for relations he might have with US Govt they would be of no additional benefit if functions vis-à-vis member govts eliminated per Schuman document. After all we have effective relations with OEEC in Paris and with member govts on bilateral basis. Harriman stated that function of dealing with other international organizations and non members was interesting but had little to do with the real subject. He stated that Secy’s words reflected deep seated feeling and conviction shared by Administrator, Exec in general, Congress and American people. Without calling into question right of OEEC members to take any decision they choose he said that he must make it perfectly clear that under the circumstances “US Govt will be obliged to review its attitude toward plan”. He continued to the effect that Secretary’s suggestion was result of suggestion made by several PCs, that we did not feel it to be only way of invigorating OEEC but that problem was one to which he earnestly urged that members address themselves. He concluded that he was confused but still hopeful on the basis that perhaps mornings discussion had dealt with only one aspect of question brought up in Secretary’s message and that other aspects could be taken up later.

At afternoon session idea was evolved that it went without saying and was matter of course that proposed personality would have access to member govts and to responsible ministers just as to Pres of Council at official level, Chairman of Executive Committee and Secretary General. Expression of this idea was first contemplated in form of interpretative verbal note embodying negative statement i.e. “nothing in resolution prevents etc.” Later, largely due to US urging it was agreed to incorporate it into draft working paper and to give it considerably more positive form. It was also agreed to include in duties of proposed personality that of assisting in presenting objectives of organization to public as suggested in Secretary’s message.

Position was that there had been misunderstanding and that no one had contemplated debarring proposed personality from high-level contacts with member governments. Cripps distinguished himself by taking highly legalistic and specious position to effect what Secretary and Harriman contemplated for proposed personality was currently being carried out by US Emb and ECA Mission Chief in London vis-à-vis British Government. He made much of argument that if this function too clearly spelled out it would be necessary to modify OEEC convention.5 “We must not”, he remarked, “interfere [Page 467] with smooth working of present machine”. Lange took position that there was no need for anyone to present OEEC views to member govts since those views were evolved by Council of Ministers of participating governments. Pella spoke most helpfully to the effect that proposed personality could perform most useful function in giving dynamic impulse to development and execution of collective decisions of Ministers.

Harriman took occasion to express surprise at fact that in Schuman paper US was lumped with non-member countries and international organizations in general. This was rectified.

Portuguese representative … opposed proposal generally approved to allow Van Zeeland to sound out Spaak informally on behalf of organization. He was most legalistic on subject of “incompatibilities” and with reference to mention of Council of Europe.6

Text of working paper to be used for further discussion and consideration will be forwarded shortly.7 It provides that proposed personality will insure permanent liaison between OEEC and US Govt and such liaison as may be appropriate between OEEC, non-members and international organizations. He will also have responsibilities with respect to presentation of OEEC objectives to the public. He will report to the Council and be responsible to it. He will attend meetings of Council and Consultative Group in consultative capacity. Secretary General will make such services as he requires available to him and will pay him appropriate “indemnities”. Consistent with OEEC convention he will make direct contact with members of the organization either on his own initiative or at the request of the chairman in order to contribute to bringing about agreements between members and to coordinate activities aimed at accomplishing agreed ends. The question of incompatibility of proposed position with others held in international organizations by possible candidate will be settled by Council on ad hoc basis.

Tel follows8 with proposed line of action and further comments.

  1. The text printed here is from telegram Repto 1132 to London.
  2. John G. Erhardt, Minister in Austria.
  3. George B. Bingham, Chief of the ECA Mission in France.
  4. Not printed; it transmitted the text of Van Zeeland’s proposal for “strengthening OEEC organization through appointment of outstanding European personality to serve as special representative of Council at political level”, and it stated that the United States strongly supported the proposal. (ECA Telegram Files, FRC Acc. No. 53A278, Paris Repto)
  5. In the source text, presumably by error in transmission, this sentence preceded the one beginning “Cripps distinguished himself”.
  6. Another account of the meeting of the Consultative Group was transmitted by Murphy in telegram 1697 from Brussels, December 22, not printed (840.50 Recovery/12–2249).
  7. The text of the working paper was transmitted to ECA in Repto 8111 from Paris, December 22, and to ECA Mission Chiefs in Repto circular 428, December 22, neither printed (ECA Telegram Files, FRC Acc. No. 53A278).
  8. This telegram has not been identified.