396.1 LO/4–2650: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Preparatory Meetings to the Secretary of State


Secto 20. See Secto 12, April 25.1 Perkins met with Jebb this morning to explore problem of UK relations to Europe. Jebb presented 1-page paper he had drafted in effort to clarify British attitude though he emphasized it was only reflection of personal views, not Governmental views. It said in essence that British distinguished between “unity” and “union” of Europe. “Unity” meant cooperation of equal partners in advancing solution of common political and economic problems. OEEC and Council of Europe were agencies of unity and UK could and does participate. “Union” on other hand involves progressive steps leading to surrender of sovereignty as end result. This the British are not prepared to do.

In opening comment Perkins indicated our belief in Europe’s importance as the chief area of strength to be developed. The 2 problems are to develop higher living standard as demonstration our civilization is better than communism and to bring Germany in as component part [Page 882] of Western Europe. To meet these problems, British participation and leadership are needed. He cited EPU as example. Jebb agreed with this analysis but he contended that anything more will lead surely and eventually to federation. If British go further with EPU, it will lead them on road which would weaken sterling. Jebb then returned to idea advanced in yesterday’s meetings of “umbrella” organization existing in Atlantic area which would include US and Germany, as solution for UK’s dilemma. Perkins asserted we do not wish to push European Union but he could not see what the difference would be so far as UK’s difficulties are concerned between European Union and Atlantic Union, since both would presumably involve some eventual surrender sovereignty. Without directly replying, Jebb said that Britain fears European Union because they would be at mercy of united and strong Germany and would have European unemployment problem dumped in their laps.

Bohlen2 observed that British paper did indicate substantial change in situation. We first faced present situation at end of 1947 and idea emerged of European community of which UK would be a member, which would be assisted by US to become self-sustaining entity. This idea is still held by US public and Congress. Apparent, however, that British view is now changing and British do not consider such European entity obtainable, including UK. He asserted there is little chance for Continental union without British participation as French would certainly fear German domination, and Scandinavians and perhaps Netherlands would follow UK. Jebb continued to push point that UK could not federate, that Parliament would vote against federation, but inquired whether Continentals could not combine under shelter of super organization which would include “British and US and everyone.”

Perkins pointed out that there are many things which could be done and which we would have hoped British would do short of federation. He thought, for example, that British could agree to elimination of dual pricing with [without?] damaging Commonwealth ties. Although pleading ignorance on this matter, Jebb agreed these things can be done. Perkins referred also to elimination of trade barriers and cited our belief in large markets as argument for trade liberalization. Jebb emphasized, however, that these things really dependent on, existence of single government in area concerned.

Jebb again reverted to idea of organizing a larger Atlantic unity. Bohlen several times pressed Jebb to see whether existence of this larger unity in organized fashion, including US and West German [Page 883] participation, would permit British to take more relaxed attitude and whether it would remove obstacles to full British participation. Jebb finally said he could not really answer this question, but he thought so. Speaking purely personally, he thought politically it would be a more possible move. People would be prepared for greater sacrifices and would have less fear of US domination than of German domination. Further discussion seemed to develop general agreement that the formation of new strength in Atlantic organization would relieve most; people in the world and would not serve to alienate other countries.

Bohlen several times emphasized the rather urgent time factor involved. Something had to be done fairly soon by way of including Germany in firm Western organization. Germany was recovering her independence in spirit and in fact so rapidly that we had possibly no more than another year in which to influence her course toward West. There was general agreement on this point. Problem accordingly boiled down to best method of getting Germany and US into same organization. Jebb added that British objective is to get Germany into some non-military organization. Perkins indicated that he was not against new Atlantic organization and that we would, of course, be willing to study this idea, but we want to know whether it will work; He thought it could not be done yet because the plans and implementations are not thought out, and he thought the group to be set up under NAT could study this problem.

In summary it was US view that there is a middle position between what we now have and federation where British leadership could be exercised. The British view is that UK cannot do much more than now for fear of federation involving surrender of sovereignty. They believe an umbrella organization would be helpful. Both sides agree that problem of German participation is vital and that what is needed is organization including both US and Germany.

Two salient points emerged from this conversation. First, British seem firmly determined not to go further in cooperation with Europe than they have done up to present. Second, they returned again rather strongly to idea thrown out yesterday of some new Atlantic super organization. It is evident they have been thinking along this line although they remain vague as to exact form or functions of such organization. We have not entered into much discussion on this point in view of lack of clarification Department’s views. Vagueness of proposals indicates idea has not been thought through. However, because of British attitude and Bidault’s speech, we will probably be faced with some such proposal and our position should be prepared.

  1. Ante, p. 865.
  2. Charles E. Bohlen, United States Minister at Paris.