Paris Embassy files, 400 European Army


Paper Prepared in the Embassy in France1

top secret

Analysis of the European Army Conference Through June 22, 1951

i. the problem

1. To analyze the activities of the European Army Conference, to date, as a basis for assisting in the formulation of U.S. policy on the development of European defense.

ii. background

2. The Occupying Powers were invited by the North Atlantic Council to discuss with the German Federal Government the question of German participation in the defense of Western Europe along the lines set forth in Council document C6–D/1of 13December 19502 Other NATO nations were to be kept as fully informed as possible of the course of the discussions and of any steps taken to initiate German participation. In C6–D/1, the Council noted the French intent to call a conference on the formation of a European Army, and requested the Deputies to keep themselves informed of its progress, and in due course consider any recommendations made from the point of view of NATO requirements.

3. On 15 February 1951, the French Government called a conference to “study the means of organizing, for the common defense, a European Army, to come under unified European political institutions, along the general lines of the declaration made by Mr. Pleven on 24 October 1950.”

4. With respect to any arrangements arrived at for developing a European Army, and a German contribution within same, the North [Page 790] Atlantic Council stated in part that: “The final test of all such arrangements must be whether, in the judgment of NATO, they were militarily effective and served to strengthen the North Atlantic Community.” (C6–D/1, Paragraph 12)

5. In the conclusions of the Military Committee report, approved by the Council as part of C6–D/1, it was stated that: “A European Defense force operating as an element of an integrated NATO Defense force, is militarily acceptable if its achievement under no circumstances would delay the contribution of Germany to the defense forces of Western Europe.”

6. The Allied High Commissioners have discussed the question of a German contribution with the German Federal Government, to the extent of obtaining from the Germans a general indication of the terms under which they would be willing to make such a contribution, the nature of the contribution as they envisaged it, and a tentative time schedule for its development.

7. The High Commissioners have completed their discussion with the German Federal Government, and submitted their report thereon to their respective Governments on 8 June 1951.3

8. The European Army Conference is now, and has been for several months, examining the military, fiscal, and political aspects of the problem with a view to producing a draft treaty and accompany technical agreements which, if and when ratified by the governments concerned, will create the European Army. The conference plans to submit a preliminary report of progress to NATO and to the national governments by 10 July 1951.4

9. There has been no formal relationship between the Bonn discussions and the European conference, but the German delegation at the European Army Conference has presented in Paris essentially the same military proposals as at Bonn.

10. The fact that the Bonn discussions represented only an exchange of views, whereas the European Army Conference is actually negotiating an agreement, has resulted, especially in the military field, in German acceptance of some modifications to their Bonn views at subsequent Paris meetings. It thus appears that in some measure the German Bonn views are being overtaken in the Paris conference. Until the Paris results are approved, however, the Bonn position still must be considered as the basic German position.

11. The French made it very clear that no substantive issues would be resolved in the European Army Conference prior to the French general elections on 17 June.5 No agreement can, therefore, be expected [Page 791] on the size of basic units and the levels of integration until after the new French Government assumes office.

iii. the european army proposal

12. The European Army Conference was opened in Paris on 15 February 1951 under French chairmanship. In opening the Conference Foreign Minister Schuman stated, as to its purpose, that the proposal was to be considered in the same context as the coal and steel plan, and insisted that “there is a Europe to organize” and that … this truth holds in the field of defense as well as in the political and economic fields. A European Army within the Atlantic Force will be a “permanent instrument for the security of our continent, and an essential element of European integration.” He also declared that the work of the conference was, in his opinion, as much “political as military.” Schuman stated that the French plan had an immediate military purpose, namely: “To construct a military tool of sure efficiency, and to prove not only to our technicians but also to our peoples that an Army of a United Europe is fit to be used against an aggressor with cohesion and vigor at least as great as in the case of national armies.”6

13. At the opening meeting Schuman also emphasized that the French wanted the European Army wholly compatible with, and a help to the integrated Atlantic Force, saying: “If our initiative were to result in imperiling or simply slowing up Atlantic defense, and if that were proved, we would not hesitate to withdraw our proposal.” He summed up the philosophy behind the European Army as follows: “Atlantic defense and European defense have nothing incompatible about them, do not duplicate each other, but are placed on different planes. The Atlantic organization is a coalition system of national armies, grouped under a single command. The European Army will be a supranational army, being substituted for national armies progressively and definitively.”

14. Since the opening of the conference, the various aspects of the problem have been examined, either in plenary session or by appropriate committees: military, judiciary, and fiscal. The work accomplished by the various committees is discussed in detail in Section IV below.

15. The timing set by the Chairman of the Plenary Session, Hervé Alphand, was aimed at completing all non-controversial elements of the treaty and accompanying military agreement prior to the French elections and isolating, for subsequent resolution, those issues on which ready agreement could not be reached. The completion in June of the Bonn report, however, prompted the French to propose that a progress report be completed by 10 July containing as much agreement as [Page 792] possible. The French are concerned lest the U.S., and subsequently NATO, take action on the Bonn report without concurrent consideration of the European Army Conference activities.

16. The procedure and phasing envisaged by the European Army Conference for the implementation of its plan, if and when agreed to, is essentially as follows:

1st Phase (Approximately 18 months)
Prepare, separately and under national supervision, the forces which are to be integrated at the start of the second phase.
Complete plans and preliminary measures necessary to the second phase integration, and to the subsequent support of the forces concerned.
Create the agencies required for the administration of the European Army.
Prepare the essential regulations and military laws which will govern the European Army in the second phase.
In general, take all steps necessary to insure the proper functioning, support, and development of the army in accordance with agreed plans.
2nd Phase (After 18 months)
Assemble national formations into the agreed integrated formations of the European Army.
SHAPE to assume command responsibilities for European Army units on the same basis as for the national units of other countries.
The European Defense Commissioner, or other appropriate European agencies, to assume responsibility for those functions not assumed by SHAPE.

17. The initiation of phase one would start with the signature of the Treaty, if preparatory measures are permitted; or, if not, as soon as the Treaty is ratified. In any event, it is the view of the conference that, during the period between the signature of the Treaty and its ratification by national governments, certain preparatory measures can be initiated in order to gain as much time as possible.

iv. the work of the conference

A. Juridical and Political Organization

Summary of status of treaty

18. The French Draft Convention has formed the basis for discussion. It calls for a framework not unlike that of the Schuman Plan: A European Defense Commissioner with large direct operating responsibilities and powers; a Council of Ministers which is to lay down broad policies for the Commissioner to follow and which can, under certain circumstances, entertain appeals against decisions of the Commissioner; an Assembly with limited control and supervisory powers; and a Court of Justice. In the French conception, which has by and [Page 793] large prevailed, the Commissioner would clearly be the most powerful agency of the European Defense Organization, although he would be subject to certain checks and controls. Because there was virtual agreement that the institution of the Commissioner would have to be a powerful one, differences developed in the course of the conference over the precise nature of the institution of the Commissioner (whether it should not consist of more than one person) and over the extent to which the checks and controls upon him might be increased. Differences on this point are detailed below.

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28. The conference has benefited from the fact that some of its participants, in the legal field, are familiar with the legal work accomplished in connection with the Schuman Plan, or even participated in its drafting. This fact has not always been a blessing, however: The German delegation, for instance, has attempted to correlate the European Army treaty in its form and structure to the Schuman Plan treaty, and even if this is not a deliberate effort to interpose delay—and it does not appear to be such an effort—it is a handicap rather than an asset to the conference because the correlation (comparing of texts and insertion of equivalent passages and articles) is a time-consuming effort and not always a realistic one.

29. The caliber of the participants, however, has been good. The Italian member has participated actively even while emphasizing that he was talking without directives from Rome. The French delegation has commented on the high caliber of the German delegation and this may be taken as an encouraging factor. The German delegation has frequently given to understand that its position had been cleared with Bonn, or originated there, and this too is a factor indicating that the juridical transactions of the conference have not been conducted in a sterile atmosphere. According to the Secretary of the conference, “two of the three top legal experts” of the Federal Government are working in Paris as members of the German delegation. As stated above, the work has been of a high professional caliber.

30. The question of relations with NATO was at first shunted aside, but in recent meetings has received more consideration. The Italian delegate was the one who most persistently proposed that some relationship to NATO be established during the proceedings of the conference. He was also the one who desired the relationship to NATO to be worked out and laid down in a separate annex to the convention. To this, the German delegate, with the concurrence of his French colleague, replied that reference to the relationship with NATO in the body of the Treaty (as is now the case) was preferable, since “one did not wish to give the Americans the impression that the European Army could be easily divorced from NATO.” Everyone agreed on that [Page 794] occasion that the European Army would last even beyond the unlimited period provided for in the North Atlantic Treaty. The French, although indicating agreement with the need to relate all pertinent elements of the European Army to NATO, have insisted that this should be done later in conjunction with NATO agencies since this matter is of equal concern to them.

31. A major political issue is that of full German equality, and this issue has been both met and avoided: The conference itself is proceeding on the explicit assumption that there will exist full equality among the participants. The German delegation fears that the French consider that the definitive period would see full equality but that the transitional period would be one in which certain discriminatory features would exist. Since this issue has not come out into the open as of the writing of this account, it remains to be seen whether it proves to be insurmountable.

32. The conduct of deliberations in the juridical committee and the behavior of its members in private contacts point to the conclusion that the participating countries are sincere in their expressed desire to establish a European Army based on the principle of non-discrimination. The two principal participants have been particularly insistent on the genuineness of their intentions. This is a psychological factor of some importance in assessing the chances of success of the conference.

B. Military Organization

Summary of status

33. The Military Committee of the European Army Conference has convened once or twice a week during the period 16 March to date. The various delegations actively participated in the work and furnished numerous papers and studies aimed at reaching agreement on the European Army structure. The observers of the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Denmark were present at nearly all meetings.

34. The Military Committee agreed initially to put aside the highly political question of size of basic units and levels of integration, and to proceed with a discussion of all other military phases of the European Army structure with the object of reaching as much agreement as possible pending resolution of the above issue.

35. The German proposal, of Army Corps consisting of “operating units”, raised the question of what should be the most effective basic organization for land forces, irrespective of the question of integration. The deliberations to date have been aimed at resolving this question as a prerequisite to determining levels of integration and the ultimate composition of European formations. To this end the Military Committee agreed on an agenda which included the discussion of corps troops, army general reserves, service elements, schools, policies, etc. Agreement on these elements was reached under both the French and [Page 795] German basic unit proposals, and where a difference existed depending on the solution to be ultimately adopted, the alternatives were both indicated. The army of 3 corps and 10 divisions was used by the Military Committee as a basis for discussing the European Army organization. The overall magnitude of European forces envisaged, for planning purposes, was two armies and an air force of approximately 1800 first-line aircraft.

36. As of this date, the Military Committee has reached broad agreement on all issues considered, and is preparing a first draft of an overall technical military agreement which is to accompany the treaty and cover those points requisite to a clear understanding of the European Army plan, and its implementation with a minimum of delay. The report of the Military Committee is to be completed by 10 July 1951, and no further useful work can be accomplished after that by the Committee until the basic issues are resolved.

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45. The atmosphere of the work of the Military Committee has been constantly cordial. The German delegation in particular has cooperated very actively, and has benefited from detailed guidance received from its superior echelon in Bonn. On the other hand, the Germans were hampered by the lack of a general staff organization and records to draw upon; hence many of its comments were prefaced by the statement that they were general and based on the personal experience of the participating officers.

46. The French representatives on the Military Committee are highly qualified General officers, all of whom are on the personal staff of Defense Minister Moch. French proposals and papers are prepared at Defense Ministry level, but are not processed through the French chiefs of staff; nor do the delegates rely on the general staff for assistance.

47. The caliber of the Italian delegation is particularly poor. They have contributed very little to the discussions and their only comment on most issues is to submit, as an annex to the agreed solution, the Italian equivalent as it now is. The Italian military delegate has indicated to the U.S. observer that he seriously doubts if his general staff even reads the Military Committee reports, and that General Marras has a very low opinion of the whole conference. Belgian representation is relatively strong, and there is every indication that the Belgian chiefs of staff are following the proceedings and providing constant guidance to their delegate.

48. A lack of realism has existed in the deliberations, and there has been an apparent tendency to ignore completely the relationship between individual issues and their NATO counterparts. For example, the force goals selected for planning purposes for the initial European [Page 796] Army (20 divisions and 1,800 aircraft) bear no relation to the NATO (DC 28) force requirements, deficits, or known contributions. This is true not only with respect to totals but also with respect to types. It would appear that the European Army was being developed as a separate completely balanced force, to be contributed as a whole to the NATO integrated forces without regard as to whether it would fit into the overall balanced concept of the latter.

49. The ability of the nations actually to implement the agreements which they propose has not at any time been the subject of discussion, or doubt, within the Military Committee, Yet the initial combined school to be immediately established for senior officers and commanders proposes a student body of 100 such officers, although the participating nations have been unable to furnish adequate quotas of senior officers to existing NATO commands. A feasibility test of the present agreed plans for the creation of the European Army would probably uncover many difficulties, principally with respect to the time factors envisaged.

50. The Military Committee work to date has developed a favorable spirit of cooperation, and has resulted in many technical points of view being brought together to such a degree that, if and when political agreements are reached between governments, certain military measures can be implemented without undue waste of time.

51. Conversely, should governmental agreement on a German contribution be delayed, the conference has reached sufficient paper agreement on many military issues and on the goal of the conference to interfere substantially with the adoption by NATO of any separate course of action on the Bonn report. If the work of the European Army Conference does not turn out to be constructive in the development of a German contribution, it can certainly be used effectively to delay such a contribution.

C. Financial Aspects

Status of work

52. The work of the Financial Committee has centered around four major groups of questions: questions of budgetary techniques, questions concerning the content of the budget (expenditures), questions of financing (receipts), and the special problem of international transfers.

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Principal points of disagreement

60. Approval of Budget. The original French proposal was that the budget (literally “etat provisionel” or forecast of expenditures) should be approved by the Council, acting for the member governments. The Germans proposed that in order to strengthen the European quality of the organization and to ensure democratic control over the budget, the [Page 797] final authority to approve the budget should lie with the Assembly. As the matter now stands, the delegates have under consideration two somewhat different drafts which can probably be compromised. The German draft provides that the Commissioner, like a national Minister, prepares the budget; that the Council, like a national Cabinet, approves it, with any modifications it may wish to make; that the Assembly then considers it, may amend it in any way it chooses which does not increase the total of all expenditures except for the purpose of restoring a previous cut from the Commissioner’s proposal, and approves it; but that the Council may override any changes of the Assembly by unanimous vote. The other draft, apparently supported by the French and the Italians, provides for preparation by the Commissioner, submission by the Council to the Assembly for the latter’s suggestions, with final action to be taken in every case by the Council.

61. When the budget is to go into effect. There has been disagreement as to the point at which the expenditures for troop upkeep and equipment (that is to say, virtually everything except the administrative expenditures of the Commissioner’s office) should begin to figure in the budget. The original French proposal was that such expenditures would begin to do so only at the beginning of the second phase, when the units themselves passed under direct control of the Commissioner. However, the Italian delegation proposed that in order to provide for a reasonable sharing of the burden of the original preparation of these units, the budget should include the total cost of mounting all of the units being prepared for the European Army, and each country’s direct contribution to the raising of its own troops should be deducted from its payment to the budget. In this way the burden of raising units for the European Army would be shared on whatever basis was decided upon in the Convention. The Germans have gone further than this, asking that account be taken of the fact that, whereas the other countries already have the framework of their units, Germany must start from scratch. They proposed that the other countries should make a particular contribution to the raising of German units. This suggestion has not been enthusiastically received by the other delegations and the matter is still under discussion.

62. Burden-sharing. The original French proposal was that the percentage contributions, to be fixed in the Convention, would remain in effect until modified. They could be modified by agreement among the member States at the end of five years, or sooner in the event of the adherence of a new State. The Germans agree to the setting of initial percentages, but wish those percentages, as well as subsequent revisions, to be calculated on the basis of a specific mathematical formula, which takes account of national income, tax burden, etc., and is progressive on the basis of “ability to pay”. The Germans also wanted revisions to take place at two-year intervals. The other delegations [Page 798] hold that there are too many factors involved to make possible the use of a mathematical formula and that the fixing of percentages must take place by negotiation. They think it would be mistake for such revisions to take place as frequently as the Germans propose except in the case of an extraordinary change in a country’s situation, in which case a change can be considered under one of the general clauses of the Treaty.


63. The work of the Financial Committee has been competent but not brilliant. On matters of budgetary technique, in which its members are obviously experts, it has virtually settled all questions and no particular difficulties are to be anticipated. With respect to burden-sharing, while preliminary discussion has taken place, the Committee has not really come to grips with the knottiest problems. No delegation has as yet proposed national percentage contributions. The discussions on the expenditure side of the budget and on international transfers have been somewhat hampered by the lack of a precise knowledge of the organizational framework and specifically of the scope of the effort under the European budget. It is fair to say, however, that to date not very much imagination has been used in finding ways in which advantage could be taken of the unprecedented opportunities presented by the development of a European budget and centralization of European procurement. The procurement question has hardly been discussed.

  1. This paper, which was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to a brief, explanatory despatch 16, July 3, 1951, from Paris, not printed, was drafted jointly by Ambassador Bruce, Embassy Political Adviser Riddleberger, Second Secretary Koren, Second Secretary Cleveland, and Second Secretary Herz.
  2. Regarding the document under reference, see document Pleven D–2/1a, January 26, p. 755, and footnote 7 thereto.
  3. See p. 1044.
  4. The interim report under reference here was ultimately completed on July 24; see p. 843.
  5. For materials on the French general elections, see volume iv.
  6. Regarding Schuman’s opening address to the conference, see telegram 4846, February 15, from Paris, p. 767.