740.5/5–951: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State 1


6822. Steering comite Eur army conf has had three sessions since that last reported in Embtel 6052, April 102 In course of these meetings it completed review of draft convention and addressed itself to special problems referred to it by juridical and financial comites (mil comite has so far submitted no differences to steering committee) additional session will take place May 11whereupon plenary on same date will mark end of what might be called second phase of conf.3 First phase was distinguished by confrontation of French and German theses on basic unit and by presentation of French draft convention, second phase involves blocking out of principal problems on understanding that the cardinal one of the level of integration is to be left aside for time being.

No observers took part in proceedings of steering comite. Fol account based on info furnished by De La Grandville, Fr secy of conference and by Von Kessel, member German del. Both emphasized that although certain difficulties have arisen, notably during last steering comite session, spirit of conf continues good and delegates continue hopeful something will come of it. Von Kessel said in fact that emergence of difficulties has served to give conf “atmosphere of greater realism” and has served rather to encourage his delegation. Comite work expected to continue according to outline which will presumably be presented by Alphand May 11

Among differences that emerged are two in particular:

Italians, as already foreshadowed in reftel, have systematically attempted to cut down powers of commissioner and wound up in position where they proposed triumvirate rather than single commissioner. Juridical comite, unable to agree on this, referred matter to steering comite where French hope to arrive at compromise before the next plenary, by creating posts of deputy commissioners who would not however have veto over commissioner’s decisions. French and Germans believe that Italians primarily motivated by prestige considerations since they cannot hope to get post of commissioner. French are strongly opposed to running army by comite and think little of Italian [Page 784] argument that British sea lords are effectively running Brit Navy. Noteworthy that De La Grandville said all other delegates support Fr position but that Von Kessel told us Germans not prepared to force issue since they consider it not worth a showdown inasmuch as “SHAPE in the end will have effective control anyway”.

Germans proposed that powers of assembly be increased, notably in financial field and advanced argumentation that national parliaments are more likely to vote necessary funds and that acceptance of convention itself more probable if purse strings effectively held by assembly. In making this proposal German delegate said to have argued that, after all, purpose before comite is to aid in creation supranational org, a statement against which Italians reacted rather sharply because they considered it too broad. De La Grandville said French del was left with distinct impression that Germans attempting to widen political scope of conf. Fr feel giving in to them would invite the same difficulties that have bedevilled Strasbourg4 and that moreover stability and efficiency of Eur army organization would be impaired by supranational parliamentary structure by which commissioners might be overthrown as prime mins are in France. He indicated Fr also suspect that Germans might hope broader powers for Eur army assembly would lead to relinquishment remaining allied controls. Von Kessel, on other hand, said to us German proposal motivated by honest belief that ratification of convention would have better chance not only in Germany but perhaps also elsewhere if broader political representation is afforded each country. Here again Alphand is said to have compromise in mind by which greater financial powers accorded assembly but role will nevertheless remain consultative in essence as in case of Schuman Plan.

Agreement exists re German proposal that convention be drawn up in two parts: one the definitive “final” document, the other containing “transitional” arrangements. Germans here appear mildly disquieted by fact that Fr continue to talk of phase one and phase two with “first things first” attitude (implying possible delay in implementation phase two) and Fr on other hand appear still slightly fearful that Germans might make demands later when definitive phase is to commence. Kessel in this respect perceived no difficulty. Germans would sign convention and transitional arrangements simultaneously, he said, and date could be fixed when convention itself goes into effect. Probable that agreement on this point will be announced at next plenary.

  1. This telegram was repeated for information to London, Copenhagen, Brussels, Rome, Oslo, The Hague, Lisbon, Ottawa, Luxembourg, and Frankfurt, and the Department of Defense was informed of its contents.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Telegram 6906, May 12, from Paris, not printed, reported that at the seventh plenary session of the European army conference on May 11, Chairman Alphand presented progress reports from the juridical, military, and financial committees of the conference. There was no discussion of the reports inasmuch as substantive discussions were taking place in the steering committee of the conference. (740.5/5–1251)
  4. The reference here is presumably to the Council of Europe with headquarters at Strasbourg. For documentation on the attitude of the United States toward the Council of Europe, see volume iv.