The Consul at Strasbourg (Andrews) to the Department of State
Subject: Impressions with Regard to the Council of Europe; Reporting Certain Recent Developments.
I have the honor to set forth a few impressions and to report certain developments concerning the Council of Europe.
So long as the British Labor Government maintains the attitude which it has had with respect to the Council of Europe for nearly a year, there seems to me to be little hope that the Council of Europe will be able to accomplish its avowed aim, namely, “To achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.” The British Government seems loath to become involved on the continent and to be suspicious of the objectives of the Consultative Assembly. Perhaps this explains why it is to easy to obtain derogatory information about the Council of Europe from the various British Government officials and experts who visit here from time to time. Not only the Labor Party but also the Conservative Party, to a lesser degree, appears to be reluctant and skeptical. For example, as reported in my despatch No. 64, June 22, 1950,1 Harold Macmillan, Conservative M.P., remarked to me that the proceedings of the General Affairs Committee2 [Page 778] were most “unreal”. I gathered from the use of this adjective and from his attitude that he wanted to impress me with the futility, in the eyes of the Conservative Party, of the Assembly’s “federalist” method of approach to European unity, as opposed to the British “functional” concept. When Mr. E. F. Given, Second Secretary of the British Embassy in Paris and Assistant to Mr. Ernest Davies, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was here for the meeting of the Joint Committee,3 he told a member of the Consulate’s staff that he must be very careful with his brief case while in Strasbourg because of the nasty things that it contained about the Council of Europe.
Continuing Squabble Between Consultative Assembly and the OEEC
As the Department is aware, there has been for almost one year an understandable divergence of opinion between the Consultative Assembly, which is responsible to the respective parliaments, and the OEEC, which is responsible to its respective governments. It is quite true that OEEC is a body which accomplishes concrete measures while the Council of Europe, in its present embryonic stage, has been able to accomplish little or nothing of a concrete nature. However, unless this difficulty is solved by some means it will constitute a material impediment to the Council’s limited aim of “facilitating their economic and social progress”, i.e., of the member countries. The situation seems to be aggravated by the apparent enmity between Monsieur Paul Reynaud, Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs, and Monsieur Marjolin, Secretary General of the OEEC (reference my despatch No. 18, July 18, 1950).4
As reported to the Department by the Embassy in its telegram dated July 13, 1950, it was expected that the Economic Committee’s report for consideration by the Assembly would severely criticize the Committee of Ministers’ decision on relations between the Council of Europe and OEEC. Incidentally, the Secretariat informs me that the report of the Economic Committee has not yet been published.
The Schuman Plan
There would appear to be more favorable prospects of solving the Schuman Plan–Council of Europe problem than of settling the differences between the Assembly and OEEC. According to an informant believed to be reliable, at the suggestion of Schuman the latter had made an agreement with Spaak5 to the effect that the Council of Europe must have supervision of any supra-national body which [Page 779] might be formed under the Schuman Plan. According to this agreement, the Assembly as a whole would have the right to discuss all matters pertaining to the Schuman Plan organization after its establishment; thus, the British would be allowed to air their differences in the Assembly and eventually to join in the Schuman Plan agreement. It was also agreed that the arbitrator provided for in the Schuman Plan would actually be the President of the Consultative Assembly. It was further understood that the Assembly would, in the final analysis, have to approve the recommendations of any supranational body formed before they could be put into effect. When I pointed out that Spaak had said at the press conference held after the meeting of the Joint Committee on June 24 (despatch No. 67, June 26,6 1950) that it would be the death blow of the Council of Europe if any supra-national body outside the framework of the Council should assume responsibility for the functioning of the Schuman Plan, Levy replied that Spaak had made the statement purely for propaganda purposes, since he had already reached a basic agreement with the author of the plan for a steel-coal pool.
Likelihood of Approval by Assembly of Convention on Human Rights
Also hopeful is the prospect of the approval by the Assembly, at its forthcoming session, of the draft convention on human rights adopted by the high government officials at their meeting in Strasbourg in June (see my telegram No. 37, June 97). The main difficulty was the difference in national viewpoint between the British Government, which favored precise definitions of human rights, and the French Government which advocated broad definitions. However, a compromise was reached and a report was drawn up by the Committee of High Officials (Consulate’s telegrams No. 40, June 13, and No. 43, June 198). Both the British High Officials and the Secretariat of the Council were optimistic concerning the approval of the report by the Committee of Ministers and subsequently by the Assembly.
Tendency of Certain Delegates to Clutter up the Proceedings With Superfluous, Overcomplicated, and Unfeasible Proposals
Some of the delegates are inclined to egoism and insist on presenting proposals for inclusion in the agenda that are either superfluous, or [Page 780] overcomplicated, or unfeasible. For example, Paul Reynaud9 submitted proposals for the discussion of the Schuman Plan, the control of international cartels, the European Payments Union, and the future of OEEC. It had already been agreed that a discussion of the Schuman Plan would be proposed by the Committee of Ministers and the other three proposals were already covered by the report of the Committee on Economic Affairs, of which Reynaud is Chairman. (Consulate’s despatch No. 3, July 6, 195010)
The following Irish proposals were received by the Secretariat:
- To study the feasibility of establishing amongst States Members of the Council of Europe agreements concerning double taxation.
- To study the feasibility of the production by the Council of Europe of a movie film devoted to the advancement of the ideal of European unity.
- To study the feasibility of the publication by the Council in the various languages of member States, of pamphlets devoted to the advancement of the ideal of European unity.
- To study the feasibility of instituting among member states a system of agreements relating to civil procedure.
The Joint Committee decided that proposals (a) and (d) were too complicated for discussion, while proposals (b) and (c) were obvious. Another Irish proposal was to the effect that the Amendment of Article 7 of the Bretton Woods Agreement should be discussed in the Assembly. The Joint Committee recommended that the Committee of Ministers study this proposal closely because of the doubt that it came within the scope of the Council of Europe. A Greek proposal has recently been received for a discussion of the possibility of establishing a European tobacco pool. I am informed that this suggestion will probably be allowed to die in sub-committee.
Unwieldy Structure of the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is overburdened with administrative red tape, heavy procedural encumbrances, overlapping committees and sub-committees, names and titles, etc. Much of the time of the Consultative Assembly seems to be consumed with procedural and administrative matters, as can be seen from a perusal of the provisional agenda of the forthcoming session of the Assembly, outlined in my despatch No. 3, July 6, 1950. So far as I am aware, no move is afoot for simplifying these administrative and procedural complications.
- Not printed.↩
- General Affairs Committee, Consultative Assembly, Council of Europe.↩
- Joint Committee, Consultative Assembly, Council of Europe.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Paul-Henri Spaak, President of the Consultative Assembly, Council of Europe.↩
- Not printed.↩
- The Department had evinced a steady interest throughout the first half of 1950 in the work of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on Human Rights. This Committee had issued a report on human rights at the close of its meeting at Strasbourg in mid-March and this report became the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Convention by decision of the Council’s Committee of Ministers in April. For further documentation, see telegram 1307 from Paris, March 21, 1950 (740.00/3–2150), and telegrams 1151 of March 16, 1951, and 2621 of June 7, 1950, to Paris (740.00/2–850 and 740.00/4–1350) in Department of State files.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Paul Reynaud, former Premier and Independent Republican member of the French Chamber of Deputies; delegate to the Consultative Assembly, Council of Europe.↩
- Not printed.↩