396.1 LO/5–1050: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State

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Secto 211. For President and Webb from Acheson. French proposal for closer association of French and German coal and steel industries has created deep impression and wide speculation. Important that all should realize that this was put forward entirely on French initiative and that Schuman did no more than to mention it quite casually and in such general terms prior to the announcement that I was unable by his reference to gauge the full significance of the proposal. McCloy1 who has close relations with Monnet2 was invited to talk with Monnet in greater detail about the proposal which he did on the night before the announcement and his talks with Monnet [Page 695] prompted my warning cable to you.3 It is evident that Monnet has been the mainspring of this proposal but he has acted in close cooperation with Schuman, Pleven and Meyer.4 Monnet most anxious that this proposal be accepted as a significant far-reaching effort not only toward Franco-German understanding but European federation and not viewed as an expedient or trick by which France could gain any particular advantage on the continent. French Government also at pains to emphasize that this does not take on the aspects of a grand cartel. There is a real transfer of sovereignty involved, and full publicity of all operations of the high authority contemplated. Just how allocations and pricing are to be handled in such a way as to avoid the vices of monopoly control not clear but French emphasize that their intentions are honorable and these elements must depend on course of negotiations.

In commenting on proposal believe it is important that French be given credit for making a conscious and far reaching effort to advance Franco-German rapprochement and European integration generally. On the other hand, it is too early for us to give proposal our approval because of the possible cartel aspect and known previous French efforts to secure detailed control over investment policies and management of Ruhr coal and steel industry, and certainly until we know about the character and the details of the scheme. British reaction has not yet developed but believe it is apt to be somewhat cautious.

  1. John J. McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.
  2. Jean Monnet, Commissioner General for the French Modernization Plan.
  3. Telegram 2187, May 9, p. 691.
  4. Possibly René Mayer, French Minister of Justice and former (1947–1948) Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.