The Secretary of State to Foreign Secretary Eden 1

top secret

Dear Anthony: A most critical situation has arisen in the EDC negotiations as you have been informed by reason of the impasse between the Dutch view and that of the other five nations regarding the duration of the treaty. The Dutch insist that they must have the right of withdrawing at any time when your guarantee to EDC should cease and since your guarantee lasts only as long as you are a member of NATO they wish these two periods to be coextensive in time. The other five nations with some qualification on the part of Belgium insist that the EDC treaty last for fifty years. During today’s meeting Schuman proposed the following compromise: “The present treaty is concluded for a period of fifty years from the date of its entry into force. In the event that the North Atlantic Treaty should cease to be in effect before the expiration of the present treaty then the States shall consult together and agree on measures to be taken.”

From what we know of the situation it seems to us that the attitude [Page 666] of the majority countries, especially France, Germany and Italy, is very deep-seated on this matter. They believe that if the treaty has a short duration it will prejudice the whole movement toward unity in Western Europe and will undermine the creation of sound and lasting institutions for EDC. I have great sympathy with this point of view. It seems to me that from a realistic point of view Schuman’s proposal goes a long way to meet the Dutch difficulty. The difference between his proposal and the Dutch attitude is only that the latter insist upon the clear legal right to withdraw from EDC on certain eventualities, regardless of the views of others. In reality it seems to us that if a development occurred as serious as the withdrawal of either UK or the US from NATO under Article 13 the other countries would have to reconsider their situation and that in effect they would have to reach a meeting of minds on their future course. This is true because the actualities of international affairs rest less on the possession of naked legal rights than on the maintenance of real unanimity of view among the contracting parties that their basic interests are protected by the contract.

We are sending a message pressing this view on Stikker and the Dutch Government2 but I believe that you can have the greatest influence upon them. I send this message to urge that you use this influence to help resolve the crisis so that we can conclude the agreements in the next few days. If we do not, I am very much afraid that a series of developments will occur, complicated by our correspondence with Moscow, which may result in this opportunity slipping from our grasp. Among the consequences would be the most untoward effects upon the consideration now being given by Congress to new appropriations for our Mutual Aid Program.

I am delaying my own departure until the situation becomes a little more clear. I am of course willing to run risks in order to achieve results. I do not want to land in Europe just in time to find that we are all faced with a most insoluble dilemma resulting from possible agreement on the contractuals and a deadlock on the EDC.

With warm regards,3

  1. Transmitted in telegram 6901 to Paris, May 21, with instructions to deliver to Eden “before he leaves for Strasbourg” (740.5/5–2152). Eden was presumably en route to the resumption of the meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the European Defense Community. See editorial note, p. 618.
  2. Infra.
  3. On May 22, Sir Christopher Steel, British Minister in the United States, left with Assistant Secretary Perkins a personal message from Eden to Acheson, a copy of a telegram from Eden to the Foreign Office reporting on the just concluded conversations with French officials, and a copy of a message from the Foreign Office to Eden reporting on conversations between Chancellor Adenauer and Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick in Bonn, none printed. In his brief message to Acheson, Eden stated that he was on the point of departure for Strasbourg and would do his best there to convince Stikker to give way. He also briefly reported on his conversations with French officials stating that the reason why the French Cabinet refused to approve the EDC Treaty to date was the alleged hardening of German attitudes concerning the status of French forces in Germany to June 1953. Eden concluded by urging Acheson to come to Europe immediately as the tangle of problems surrounding the EDC Treaty and German contractuals could not be unraveled until the two men met with Schuman and perhaps Adenauer as well (662A.00/5–2252).