Background Paper Prepared in the Department of State 1


EDC and the German Contribution to European Defense

1. Development of Concept

The current negotiations for the establishment of a European Defense Force (EDF) within the framework of a European Defense Community (EDC), begun in February, 1951, are the result of French initiative. France’s decision to call such a conference followed its acceptance in principle of German rearmament, proposed by the US at the NAT Council meeting of September, 1950, and had as its primary objective, the minimizing of the threat that it believed inherent in German rearmament by integrating European armed forces, including those proposed for Germany, into a European army controlled by supranational political and military institutions and endowed with common organs of command, financing, supply, etc. France also presented this integration plan as another step forward toward European federation. Although all the European NAT powers and Western Germany were invited to participate, the conference has been restricted to six powers—France, Western Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries; the Netherlands, which initially sent observers to the conference, became a full member in October, 1951. The negotiations which have ensued since February, 1951 may be divided roughly into three periods:

From February 15 to July 24 when the conference issued its interim report2—the “Alphand” report—negotiations centered mainly around principles. Although some progress was made in technical military fields, little was accomplished in the way of concrete political agreement. The slow progress of the negotiations which were speeded up in July when the US and General Eisenhower explicitly gave support to the EDF formula, was due partly to difficulties inherent in launching such a far-reaching program and to the belief of the Germans and other delegations that the US was dubious of the EDF concept. Outright opposition to the extreme Supra. national position of France, however was displayed by Italy which professed to fear constitutional and parliamentary difficulties at home, French domination in Europe, and the diminution of Italy’s position in the North Atlantic Community.

From July 24 through December, when the six-power Foreign Ministers met in Paris to discuss the problems of EDC, negotiations were [Page 598]pressed much more vigorously due to US encouragement and realization that the EDC formula was generally recognized by NATO as being the most desirable medium for German rearmament. With the assistance of SHAPE which supplied advisory opinions, agreement was quickly reached on the technical military aspects of the EDC. Political agreement on many essential points was blocked, however, by the opposing views of the two groups into which the conference had split. Reversing its previous position, Italy joined Germany and France in supporting a strong supranational political and military structure; the Benelux countries, on the other hand, proposed solutions that tended more to coalition than defense integration. The motivation of the Benelux position was complex: The absence of the UK with whom Belgium and Netherlands traditionally have close ties, fear of French or eventually German domination, predilection for the North Atlantic defense community as opposed to the European defense community; belief that the establishment of EDC would eventuate in lessened US interest in Europe; and, above all, fear especially on the part of Belgium where experiences with EPU financing and TCC burden-sharing estimates were arousing public and parliamentary opposition, that supranational control of EDC finances would adversely affect the economic and social position of their countries. The meetings of the six-power Foreign Ministers, December 27–30 in Paris, failed to solve the most important difficulties of the negotiations.

Since January, negotiations in the conference and in the third meeting of the six Foreign Ministers, January 26–273 have resulted in agreement on most of the institutional problems and the narrowing down of disagreement on most of the remaining problems. This success is attributable partly to US and, to a lesser degree, UK pressure for the consummation of an agreement prior to the projected Lisbon NAT meeting in February. The US has taken occasion to impress on the Benelux countries the seriousness that failure to achieve the EDC will have on NATO and on US opinion and to reassure them that the establishment of EDC will strengthen US interest in Europe. The Netherlands and Belgium consequently have put forth a more serious effort to secure a compromise. On the other hand, France, Germany, and Italy have made major concessions even to the point of weakening their EDC supranational structure in order to satisfy the smaller powers.

2. Institutional Organization

The original French draft treaty provided for a) a European Commissioner endowed with executive authority over the EDC and with direct powers of action and control; b) Council of Ministers in which votes should be weighted and whose approval by a qualified majority would be necessary for certain important decisions of the Commissioner; c) an Assembly possessing the power to censure and remove the Commissioner; and d) a Court.

The basic functions of the Court were readily agreed on in the early phases of the negotiations. These functions include: 1) Jurisdiction over appeals from executive decisions by a member state, the Council, or assembly on the basis of violation of the treaty, lack of legal competence, [Page 599]etc.; 2) The right to annul decisions or recommendations of the executive resulting from such appeals; 3) Jurisdiction in disputes involving contracts let by the executive on a basis determined in the treaty. There is also general agreement that the Court should be empowered to remove the Commissioners if such removal is requested by a ⅔ vote of the Council.

The major difficulties in establishing the institutional structure of the EDC have been in connection with the composition and powers of the High Authority. France which originally proposed a single-member Executive gradually revised its position and accepted the Italo-German plan of a three-member Executive, exercising real authority independent of the Council of Ministers, and jointly responsible for actions of its members. The Franco-German-Italian position was opposed by the Benelux countries which insisted that 1) the Executive be composed of a six-member college with each participating country represented; 2) the Executive be subordinated in the exercise of its powers to the Council of Ministers; and 3) that decisions in the Executive be taken by majority vote. The solution of those problems was made possible by two important concessions made to the Benelux countries in December and early January: 1) Franco-German-Italian acceptance of a multi-member Executive composed of different nationalities and 2) acceptance of a Belgian compromise proposal that the Council be able to issue directives on any subject to the Executive but that in the absence of such directives the latter would be free to act on its own responsibility. At the meeting of the six Foreign Ministers January 26–27, final agreement was reached on the establishment of a Commissariat of nine members which shall be named by unanimous agreement of the governments and of which not more than two can be nationals of the same state. The division of functions among the nine Commissioners and its method of work was left to internal regulations to be drawn up by the Commissariat itself.

Differences of opinion on the powers of the Council have related primarily to: 1) its relations to the Commissariat and, 2) the majority necessary to take decisions on important measures. Generally, the Franco-German-Italian position emphasized the restriction of the powers of the Council vis-à-vis the Commissariat to decisions, recommendations, and directives specifically stated in the Treaty and, except for the voting of the budget and a few other important matters, favored a decision by a qualified majority. The Benelux countries, on the other hand, regarded the Commissariat as subordinate to the Council, and to protect the interests of the smaller states insisted on unanimity in the Council for all important decisions. The Benelux insistence on unanimity has been relaxed following certain concessions to national authority and actions especially in the transitional period. With respect to weighted voting in the Council, the original French [Page 600]proposal to make decisions in tie votes and those requiring qualified majorities contingent on the support of those countries contributing 50 percent of the financial contributions to the EDC was not accepted by any of the participating countries although all agreed that some form of weighted voting would be desirable. A compromise was finally agreed to by the Ministers that in such case the votes of members making ⅔ of the total financial and troop contributions will carry.

The composition and powers of the Assembly did not loom very large in the early phase of the negotiations. While the conferees generally were agreed that the Assembly should exercise authority to remove the Executive by a vote of censure supported by a ⅔ majority they differed in their views as to the role of the Assembly in financial matters. Initially both Italy and Belgium opposed giving the Assembly any authority in budgetary matters and Belgium later desired to abolish the Assembly altogether while Italy reversed its position and became the most ardent advocate of a strong Assembly in the conference. In December, the Foreign Ministers agreed that the Assembly should be retained and that it should be given the task of studying and reporting to the Council of Ministers on a plan for the transformation of the EDC into a federal or confederal structure. Moreover, agreement was reached in January to give the Assembly the right to modify budgetary expenditures without, however, raising the total. At the same time, the Council is empowered to veto such proposals by a majority vote.

On the question of Assembly composition, the latest Ministerial meeting produced agreement that the Assembly will consist of 21 members each from France, Italy and Germany, 10 each from Belgium and The Netherlands, and four from Luxembourg. The EDC Assembly will be the same body as the Schuman Plan Assembly. This will mean that extra French, German and Italian representatives will be added to the regular Schuman Plan members when EDC matters are discussed. It was further agreed that a provision would be included in the treaty Stating that if no definite steps towards federation have been taken within three years after the ratification of the EDC Treaty, the latter will be amended to alter the composition of the Assembly.

3. Financial and Economic Provisions

The most serious problems in the EDC negotiations have been related primarily to financial and economic matters, primarily 1) the nature and content of the common budget, 2) the manner of fixing national contributions, 3) the extent of the High Authority’s control over expenditures, and 4) the latter’s authority in the matter of armaments production and supply including US financial and economic aid to EDC. These problems have arisen essentially because of the conflict between the Franco-Italian-German view and that of Benelux. The Benelux countries have insisted on the retention, at least through [Page 601]1953, of their national armaments program and financial commitments under NATO and of a certain measure of national control over the EDC budget and expenditures. France, Germany, and Italy on the other hand, have insisted that there must be a common budget from the first day the Treaty is in effect and that the EDC Executive must be free to utilize the national contributions for common armaments and supply in the “best interests” of the community.

In the long and involved discussions which have ensued since October, 1951, disagreement between the two points of view has been narrowed by various concessions made to the Benelux countries including: 1) assurance of their representation in the High Authority which will administer the common budget; 2) acceptance of unanimity in the Council for the voting of the budget and determining national contributions; and 3) agreement that the national contributions shall be made according to NATO procedures. The Benelux countries are insisting, however, on guarantees that their national rearmaments program will be respected through 1953, and continue to oppose the establishment of any minimum contribution that would bind their parliaments in the future as is desired by the Franco-German-Italian group.

Most of the financial and economic issues have now been cleared up in the Steering Committee at the technical level. It has been agreed that the common budget would enter into effect from the first day, that the national contributions to the budget would be made in accord with NATO procedures during the first two periods and that the budget as a whole would be adopted by the Council acting unanimously. In the event that the Council is unable to act, the budget for the previous year will be continued. It has been agreed that the expenditures side of the Common Budget would be approved by the Council acting by a qualified majority. It has further been agreed that NATO commitments and existing contracts would be respected in executing the Common Budget.

Problems which still remain to be solved are, in addition to the question of the establishment of a minimum level of contributions for the years subsequent to the enactment of the Treaty: 1) the German contention that its expenditures for the support of non-EDC troops in Germany be negotiated by the EDC and paid out of the common budget; 2) the German proposal to submit a plan for expenditure of its contribution in 1952 to the Commissariat, just as the other members will do; and 3) the portion of the national defense effort of each EDC country that can be transferred to another EDC country.

4. Military Organization

Since October when the size of national units in the EDF and the number of divisions was fixed on the advice of SHAPE according to a formula which approximated divisional strength for the national [Page 602]units advocated by the Germans, military problems in the EDC negotiations have largely been confined to the relatively minor issues of 1) the question of territorial command, 2) the command of internal security forces, i.e., the extent of national control in each case, and 3) command of naval forces.

5. EDC NATO Relationships

Discussions in the Steering Committee of the Paris Conference, in the December and January meetings of the six Foreign Ministers, and in the NAT Council Deputies have emphasized three major problems in the relationships between EDC and NATO: 1) the use of EDC troops, 2) reciprocal security guarantees between EDC and NATO, 3) Western Germany’s position vis-à-vis NATO. Differences of opinion among the Paris conferees on the questions of the use of troops and reciprocal guarantees derive in part from the existence of two different concepts of the EDC: 1) the French thesis which is shared by Italy and Germany that EDC, although established within the framework of NATO, is nevertheless a separate organization with its own political and juridical status and 2) the concept of the Benelux countries, especially the Netherlands, which emphasizes the EDC as constituting only an element of the greater North Atlantic system.

Use of EDC forces. The use of EDC forces has been envisaged by the French under three contingencies: 1) an attack against a member state of EDC, 2) an attack against a NATO power that is not a member of EDC, and 3) an attack against a country such as Yugoslavia which is a member of neither EDC nor NATO but whose preservation is important for the security of the EDC countries. France appears to have initially thought of making the use of EDC troops in some contingencies dependent on the action of either the EDC Council of Ministers or the High Authority. At the December meeting of the six Foreign Ministers, Schuman stated that while the French position had not been fixed, the use of forces offered an example on which the Council might act by unanimity. Later, in a January meeting of the Steering Committee, Alphand stated that in the event of an attack on an EDC member or a NATO power, the use of EDC troops should be automatic and the EDC Executive should be empowered to order EDC troops into action or authorize SACEUR to do so without reference to any other body.

Official proposals made by France to the EDC conference late in January, however, and Schuman’s declaration at the January meeting of the six Foreign Ministers indicate clearly that the French support a treaty provision that would make the use of EDC troops, in the event of an attack on an EDC or NATO state, automatic without mentioning the agency that shall order such action. Schuman, in fact, stated that the omission of any mention in the Treaty of the agency which should order EDC troops into action under either of these two contingencies [Page 603]was to avoid any consitutional difficulties in the national parliaments relative to the power to order troops into action. On the question of the use of EDC troops in the event of an attack on a non-EDC, non-NATO state such as Yugoslavia, the French are insistent that provision for such be made in the EDC Treaty and that such action be made dependent on the unanimous vote of the Council of Ministers.

France’s position on the use of troops is strongly supported by Germany and Italy. While Belgium supports the idea of the automatic use of the EDC troops in the event of an attack against an EDC or NATO member, the Netherlands position is that there is no need for an explicit treaty provision ensuring automatic action by EDC troops. The Dutch argue that the decision concerning the use of forces should be made within NATO and that EDC forces should be used each time Atlantic forces take action by virtue of NAT treaties. Moreover, the Dutch view the explicit mention of automatic guarantees as raising a problem in connection with the Brussels Pact which includes the UK and which binds the signatories to common action in the event of an attack. Both the Netherlands and Belgium, however, are opposed to any mention in the Treaty of the use of troops in the event of an attack on a non-EDC and non-NATO state, stating that such an eventuality is covered by Article 4 of NAT and that any more explicit provision in the EDC Treaty would extend their commitments.

Reciprocal Security Guarantees. The French initially proposed that on the signing of the EDC Treaty, two simultaneous declarations should be made, one by the EDC declaring an attack against a NATO member would be considered an attack against the EDC and a similar declaration by NATO. The EDC conference is at present considering a draft text on security guarantees to the NATO countries to be included in the EDC treaty.

At present the NAT Council Deputies are considering the following declaration to be made by the Council:

“The parties to the North Atlantic Treaty, convinced that the creation of the EDC will strengthen the North Atlantic Community and the integrated defense of the North Atlantic area:

“Agree that an armed attack on the territory in Europe of any member of the EDC or on the forces, vessels or aircraft of the EDC, when in or over the territories covered by Article VI of the North Atlantic Treaty, shall be considered an armed attack against all parties to the North Atlantic Treaty within the meaning of Article V.”

Such a declaration by the NATO members provides Germany with the guarantee of protection of her territory and of her forces, vessels or aircraft contributed to the EDF of the same nature now enjoyed by NATO members under the terms of Article V of the Treaty. As described above the EDC Treaty provides the NATO members with the guaranty that the EDF (including its German elements) will be at the [Page 604]disposition of the NATO members in the event of an armed attack on one or more of the members. In effect, therefore, Germany would share the privileges and burdens of the security provisions of the NAT (Articles V and VI).

Western Germany’s Position vis-à-vis NATO . In a late January meeting of the Steering Committee, the German delegate Blank, declared that NATO could not be permitted to take decisions affecting the EDC without German representation and that for the EDC Treaty to be acceptable to the Federal Republic either 1) EDC would have to become a member of NATO in one form or another thus giving Germany indirect participation or 2) Germany should be made a member of NATO. At the January meeting of the six Foreign Ministers, Hallstein stated the German position as follows: provided, it is clearly recognized that Germany’s non-membership in NATO is purely temporary, Germany would accept the following arrangements concerning EDCNATO relationships: 1) that EDC have a corporate membership in NATO and that the present NATO members of EDC withdraw from NATO, or 2) that present NATO members of EDC retain their membership and that EDC corporate membership be added. Hallstein stated that he did not wish to issue an ultimatum but simply to state that any arrangement that totally excluded Germany from NATO membership would be unacceptable.

The German position has presented the EDC with one of its most serious problems. Heretofore, the EDC countries have contemplated the institutional relationships of EDC with NATO only in terms of the assignment of observers from the Commissariat to the various agencies of NATO and the assignment of EDC officers to SHAPE. None of the EDC countries appears prepared to weaken its individual membership in NATO through the corporate membership of EDC. Although most of the NATO countries would be willing to consider full German membership in NATO, France continues to be adamant in its opposition.

In letter to the Secretary, dated January 29,4 Mr. Schuman said that the German position on NATO membership as cited above made it his duty to remove any misunderstanding; the relations to be established between EDC and NATO are by no means insoluble, but they become so the moment the adherence of the German Federal Republic to the NAT is envisaged. Schuman repeated the argument that entrance of Germany into NATO would appear to many as a radical alteration in the character of the alliance since, with the entrance of a country the structure of which would lead it to advance territorial claims, it could not be said with the same persuasive force as when the pact was signed that NATO was defensive in character. Furthermore, if the entrance of Germany into NATO were envisaged, the creation [Page 605]of the EDC and the sacrifices involved therein for several countries would be much less easily accepted by public and Parliamentary opinion. Schuman emphasized that the French Parliament was resolutely hostile to the accession of Germany to NAT and added that there are no grounds for believing that this attitude may be changed in the foreseeable future.

In the same letter, Schuman defended the French decision to create a diplomatic mission in place of the former French High Commission in the Saar by saying that the economic union of France and the Saar is an essential element of economic balance inside the European community and that France was executing a decision which was not incompatible with the provisional character of the present status of the territory. Following French action on the Saar, Adenauer instructed Hallstein to refrain from any further agreements in the EDC discussions, and in a press statement said that “until there has been a discussion of the entire question in the Bundestag the Federal Chancellor will in no case agree to a treaty on the entrance of the Federal Republic into the European Defense Community in any form.”

Although there is some reason to believe that the Adenauer positions on NATO and on the Saar questions have been made in part for domestic political reasons in Germany, both are issues from which it will be difficult for either the French or Germans to retreat. With regard to German representation on NATO, Stikker has suggested that a solution might be found in some arrangement whereby in a causa foederis (act which brings treaty provisions into force) involving EDC, all members should meet with NATO to determine their common policy. According to Stikker, Schuman is reported to have agreed to such an arrangement but Hallstein has said that it would not be sufficient to overcome German objections. On the Saar issue, a possible formula has been advanced allegedly as coming from Adenauer to the effect that the Saar should be the seat of the EDC and the Schuman Plan and have a status analagous to that of the District of Columbia.

  1. This background paper was one of a series of such papers drawn up in preparation for the forthcoming session of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon. As approved on Jan. 31, 1952 by the “Steering Group” (the special interagency committee responsible for coordinating such background papers), this paper was circulated as LIS D–5/1a, Feb. 1, 1952. The original version of this paper, which was circulated as LIS D–5/1, Jan. 30, was drafted by Barnard (EUR/RA). This was one of several papers submitted by Perkins (EUR) to Secretary Acheson on Feb. 5.
  2. The report under reference here, dated July 24, 1951, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, p. 843.
  3. See the editorial note, p. 594.
  4. Ante, p. 7.