Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State (Kennan)

Participants: Secretary of State Acheson
The Honorable Paul Henri Spaak
Baron Silvercruys, Belgian Ambassador
George F. Kennan

The discussion began on the subject of European integration. Mr. Spaak stated that the word “integration” was foreign to European usage, and that he liked to conceive of it as the “organization” of Europe. It was his view that the U.S. had to assert real pressure on the Europeans to improve their international collaboration. The central problem in all this, he felt, was the attitude of the British. He [Page 614] thought it essential that the British reluctance to enter into continental arrangements be overcome. He was not able to specify just what concrete projects of closer organization we should press upon the Europeans but was sure that a firmer U.S. influence was required.

With regard to the Saar, he thought that Mr. Schuman was trying to improve his position in the French Government by taking a tough line with the Germans in this instance. He felt that some day the principles of the Ruhr Authority1 might conceivably be applied to all of the mining and heavy industries of the Rhine Valley, and that the problem of the mines and industries of the Saar could be solved in this way.

He hoped that it would soon be possible to make progress toward greater European unity by arrangements under the Council of Europe which would bridge the gap between purely consultative deliberations involving the complete individual veto, on the one hand, and arrangements which would imply the forfeiting of sovereignty, on the other. He thought this might be done by a system under which the Consultative Assembly might make recommendations to the Council of Ministers,2 which in turn, by a straight majority vote, might oblige each of the participating governments to submit the proposal in question to its respective parliament for consideration. The parliamentary action would be entirely free, and in this respect the parliaments themselves might be said to have a veto; but the governments could not prevent the question from reaching the parliaments.

  1. See footnote 2, p. 696.
  2. Reference here is to the two principal organs of the Council of Europe: the Consultative Assembly with headquarters in Strasbourg and the Council of Ministers with its permanent secretariat in Brussels.