The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State
2549. Eyes only Secretary. Jean Monnet came to see me today and discussed recent developments in connection with the Schuman proposal for pooling iron and steel production. At 3 p. m. yesterday Mr. Bevin received from the French Government the text upon which the Germans and French had previously agreed which reads as follows:
[Here follows the text of the brief French-German agreement regarding the basic objectives of the Schuman proposal and plans for its negotiation.]
At 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon the French received from Mr. Bevin1 a note reading as follows:
“I have now been able to give thought to the organization of further discussion about your proposal for a Franco-German coal and steel authority in which other European countries might participate.
I feel that the important thing is to get something soon. The welcome given to your proposal and the effect it has had on Franco-German relations leads me to think that no time should be lost in following it up.
A full-scale international conference to which no participating countries could come without a great deal of preparation and some measure of commitment seems to me an inappropriate way of handling this affair in the next stage. In my view the most desirable step would be the earliest institution of direct conversations between French and German Governments. His Majesty’s Government would like to participate in them from the outset with the hope that obtaining a clearer [Page 710] picture of how the scheme would operate in detail they might be able to participate in it.”
The British message was apparently prepared before the Foreign Office had taken cognizance of the French note. The French have told the British that they will not be able to accept the British suggestion that “His Majesty’s Government would like to participate in them from the outset with the hope that obtaining a clearer picture of how the scheme would operate in detail they might be able to participate in it.”
The French feel that:
- (1) If the British offer to join with themselves and the Germans on a completely uncommitted basis were accepted, the consequent delays attendant upon the consideration of the Schuman plan proposal in detail would make its eventual adoption much more difficult and probably impossible;
- (2) The French and Germans have already agreed to undertake joint action along the lines of the French Government’s communication to the British of yesterday afternoon and have already invited the Benelux countries as well as Italy to join in this common undertaking. The conversations with these latter governments have been very satisfactory and they are optimistic about the adherence of those governments to their proposal in the exact terms already agreed upon between the French and German Governments;
- (3) The present French fear is that preliminary conversations with Benelux and Italian representatives which must be acted upon by the Cabinets of those countries may not be favorably received by the Cabinets if the British Government should now undertake to bring pressure to bear upon them to reject the French proposition. This matter will be settled probably within the next couple of days.
In any event the French intend to publish the text of the agreement between themselves and the Germans next Wednesday and hope by that time also to have the adherence of Benelux and Italy. Monnet’s personal opinion is that the British will go along later as participants in the pool. Should any such British maneuver occur and result in a change in the present probable approbation of the plan by the Benelux and Italian Governments this would obviously constitute a serious setback to the undertaking. It might be advisable for the Department to authorize Ambassador Murphy, since Belgium is a key country, in his discretion should the necessity arise to inform Van Zeeland2 informally of the interest of the US Government in not seeing this plan blocked.
Since the above information was given to me on an entirely personal basis by Monnet it is highly important that only the most limited distribution be made of this message.[Page 711]