United States Delegation Minutes of the Third Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, United Kingdom., and France Held at Washington, September 12, 1951, 9:30 a.m.

Tripartite Min–3
Mr. Acheson (U.S.)
Mr. Morrison (U.K.)
M. Schuman (Fr.)
Also Present
U.S. U.K. France
Mr. Jessup Sir Oliver Franks M. Bonnet
Mr. McCloy Sir Pierson Dixon M. Francois-Poncet
Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick

[Here follows a tables of contents.]

European Defense Force and problem of German Participation

By way of preliminary, Mr. Acheson raised three procedural points with respect to the meetings. He noted the need for a communiqué and, after discussion with his colleagues, indicated that Mr. Bohlen, U.S., Mr. Ridsdale, U.K. and M. de Margerie, France, would prepare an appropriate draft. He also noted that M. Schuman had suggested a Tripartite Declaration and it was decided to ask Mr. MacArthur (U.S.), Mr. Rose (U.K.) and a French representative to consider this problem. Because of difficulties of scheduling on Friday, it was necessary to change the previous plans and tentatively set the meeting for discussion of economic questions at 9:30 a. m. While Mr. Morrison had no objection to a working group on a tripartite declaration, he had some doubts, primarily for domestic political reasons as to the wisdom of issuing such a declaration at this time. It might be [Page 1269] possible for such a declaration to be made part of the general communiqué.
Turning to the European Defense Force and Germany’s contribution thereto, Mr. Acheson said there were two related problems: the way the Ministers should discuss this matter here, and their attitude at Ottawa. It would be unfortunate to debate this question extensively at Ottawa. Each of the three governments, however, might deal generally with an aspect of the question. Thus, M. Schuman might talk on the European defense force developments, while Mr. Morrison and he might deal with the Bonn talks on German military contribution and contractual relations. He thought that the three should indicate their general agreement but should not go into details at that time. This approach was tentatively accepted by the three Ministers.
M. Schuman said he would not go into technicalities in discussing the interim report of the Paris Conference on the European army1 but noted that not only France but Prime Minister de Gasperi of Italy and Dr. Hallstein, representing Chancellor Adenauer, likewise supported the project. He envisaged certain problems, of which the following were most important.
In dealing with the question of how to make the transition from national armies to the European defense force, France agreed that all of its forces which would be available in Europe or North Africa to NATO should immediately be put into the European army. These forces would not, of course, include troops necessary for defense of overseas possessions. France made this considerable sacrifice in order to meet the German desire for equality. At the same time Germany would refrain from developing a national army and would put its troops, even during the transitional phase, into the European defense force. The first soldier recruited in Germany would be recruited for the European army.
He was naturally preoccupied with the problem of when the first recruitment of these effectives could take place. In order to proceed as rapidly as possible, it was desirable to have a simplified mechanism. He did not require that all the political and supervisory institutions be fully functioning before the army could be made effective. The question needed further study to see if existing organizations, such as SHAPE and other command organizations, could not be used temporarily.
As to the question of the size of national units, he noted that a year ago this matter had assumed great importance. Now with a sound structure envisaged, the size of units was less important, since with a sound super-structure there would be less concern over this problem. The French Government was willing to accept SHAPE’s recommendations in this connection.
In order that the European army should be free from the danger of being used for purely national designs, it was necessary that the [Page 1270] army have an integrated command and staff and an autonomous administrative organization. This point of view was accepted with respect to the French units under NATO, as well as for other units.
Finally certain additional military, legal and financial questions needed to be solved in order to put this project into effect.
For the information of his colleagues, M. Schuman said that the French Government proposed to have a Parlimentary debate in November on the European defense force in order to get the necessary affirmative support even before the plan was finally completed.
Mr. Acheson said the U.S. policy could be stated briefly and simply. After studying the concept of the European Defense Force carefully, he was convinced that it was the best method to solve a number of major problems relating to the defense of Western Europe, such as the integration of Germany into Europe and the securing of German contribution to European defense. While there had been some question as to the practicability of the plan, General Eisenhower was convinced that it could work. M. Schuman’s assurance that a way would be found to work out the technical problems with SHAPE was most helpful. The U.S. therefore gave vigorous enthusiastic and full support to the plan. There would be no turning back and no doubts. At the same time this attitude was consistent with the view that if after all possible effort had been made the project was not feasible, then it would be necessary to review the policy and see what else could be done. Such a step was not being considered now. The U.S. favored the French plan not only as a forward step in the development of the moral and material strength in Europe, but not least of all because it was advocated by M. Schuman himself. What had been said about not developing all the institutions envisaged by the interim report was very important for such action would take some time. By using existing institutions the decision could be worked out in a relatively definite period of time.
Mr. Morrison said that his Government was disposed to favor the European defense force plan. As was perhaps typically British, however, his Government disliked approving general principles until they had been spelled out in practical details and, therefore, he hoped that a number of arrangements could be worked out before the Rome meeting of NATO. To assist in this matter, he proposed to send high level military representatives to Paris and hoped that General Eisenhower would be adequately represented since his thinking in this matter was extremely important. There were additional questions, such as how to keep adequate three-power control over forces in Germany and he hoped to continue private discussions among the three powers to that end. He also hoped that his colleagues would accept the principle [Page 1271] that allocation of arms to NATO countries would continue to have priority over allocations to German forces. He thought at an appropriate time perhaps it might be well to give the Petersberg report on the Bonn discussions2 to other NATO countries for if broad information were given out in the near future it would be easier later on. As M. Schuman would appreciate, the British Government had changed its position appreciably during the past year towards favoring the European defense force. With respect to the matter discussed earlier, that of Egypt and the Middle East Command, he hoped that France would do its best to follow sympathetically the British problems and point of view. The three governments need to be strong everywhere and such a development in the Middle East would aid the common cause.
M. Schuman thanked Mr. Morrison for his sympathetic views with respect to the French effort to solve the European defense problem and Germany’s contribution. He appreciated the sending of high level officers to the conference and noted that General Eisenhower would be well represented. There was some merit in making the Bonn report available, providing it was clearly indicated to be out of date. He hoped to be able to move towards the British point of view on Egypt.
Mr. Acheson agreed with his colleagues as to the importance of General Eisenhower’s views and said that any plan envisaged must be workable in his eyes. As to release of the Bonn report, he expressed doubts as to releasing a document which might fix attention to problems which no longer existed and might therefore cause difficulties. He suggested that the three High Commissioners discuss this matter and report to the meeting tomorrow. If they and his colleagues desired to release it, he would not object.
M. Schuman said he had possibly misunderstood the proposal, since he thought that the Bonn report in any case would not be released until Rome and then only as part of more general documentation. He did not think that it should be put before the Council at Ottawa.
As to Mr. Morrison’s point on the priority of arms allocation to NATO countries, Mr. Acheson did not think it was a problem but he nevertheless wished to make clear that the present system of priorities would not change. Korea naturally received first priority; Indochina was next. Germany would not be put into a special position, although, of course, training equipment would be a problem to be worked out. Other areas would be treated as they were today.
  1. For extracts from the Interim Report of the European Army Conference, July 24, see p. 843.
  2. Regarding the Technical Report on the discussions at Bonn concerning a German contribution to Western defense, see the letter from the High Commissioners to their Governments, June 8, p. 1044, and footnote 2 thereto.