740.5/3–2254: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State 1


3467. Limit distribution. I have now been in Paris long enough to develop a personal feeling of the present situation regarding EDC. The views which I am about to express are my personal views and should be considered solely as such.

I find that since I left Paris last November, situation in National Assembly regarding EDC has evolved very considerably and in a favorable direction for EDC. Maurice Schumann told me Saturday that although French hoped for minor modifications of language, in both cases they considered that US and UK assurances represented a very substantial step forward and would be of great help. Subject to finding a satisfactory solution for Mollet problem of an overall European Assembly, and conclusion of a satisfactory agreement on Saar, it now appears probable, if and when EDC can be brought to a vote in National Assembly, that it will be passed by a substantial majority. Bidault’s figure of 350 votes as minimum does not appear out of line and figure might even go higher.

This evolution in favor of EDC has been recognized publicly even in opposition press, which now states that it would have been better for opponents of EDC if treaty could have been brought to a vote last December. As a corollary and probably partially as a result of this evolution in favor of EDC, non-Communist opposition to EDC has become much more violent and bitter. In realization that they will almost certainly be defeated in National Assembly if EDC comes to a vote, these opponents can now be counted on to use every possible tactic and strategy to delay final vote. Typical of increased bitterness is position of Herriot who, a year ago, was making more or less reasoned arguments against EDC but who now is using bitterest sort of propaganda [Page 907] arguments. Another example is case of Chaban-Delmas, leader of URAS, who, I am reliably informed, refused to sign national unity appeal in favor of election of Madame Peyroles in Seine et Oise runoff election against Communist Stil, because of fact that she was a member of MRP and was for EDC.

This bitterness can make it very difficult to bring EDC to a vote in Assembly as opponents of EDC, by adding their votes to those of present Communist and Socialist opposition, can bring down government on any domestic issue whenever they so desire. Therefore, we must envisage possibility that after Laniel Government sets a date for debate, it may be overthrown prior to commencement of debate. Ordinarily this would lead to most difficult kind of government crisis which could be expected to last for a long time, only viable majority being majority for EDC which would include Socialists. It might be that only kind of government that could be formed would be a temporary government with Socialist support formed for sole purpose of bringing EDC to a vote. However, this situation is severely complicated by approaching Geneva conference at which French would certainly not want to be represented by a caretaker government. It seems to me impossible to foretell what will happen in these circumstances, but I do feel strongly that we should not relax our pressure for EDC because of fear of a governmental crisis, as it may be that only way to get to a vote on EDC will be through such a crisis.

Concerning two remaining blocks to EDC I have not as yet any clear opinion as to Socialist problem. Bidault apparently thought he had reached agreement with Commin last week but this agreement, if there was one, apparently was not satisfactory to Mollet. This question can only be settled by direct negotiations between Bidault and Mollet and I was glad to hear from Bruce that Mollet now has an appointment with Bidault for this Thursday. Mollet apparently still feels that he needs to have texts of US and UK assurances available publicly three weeks or a month prior to meeting of his party congress. In event he and Bidault reach agreement on European Assembly question, I feel that we and UK should seriously consider making our assurances public whether or not Laniel government has set a definite date for opening of debate on EDC. This publication would enable Socialists to go ahead with their party congress, which is an essential prerequisite to opening of debate on EDC.

As to Saar problem, after my conversations with Bidault and Schumann, I feel that great progress has been made since last fall, and that basis of an agreement is clearly in sight given a minimum of good will and a modicum of serious negotiation between Bidault and Adenauer. Germans have made a great concession in agreeing to accept Van Der Goes report2 as a basis of negotiation and, on other hand, French have [Page 908] also made a real contribution by their concession granting freedom to all political parties prior to referendum. It seems to me only remaining serious point at issue is economic question. On this question both sides have assumed rather unrealistic bargaining positions and Van Der Goes report is of little help as it had to be purposely vague on this subject in order to achieve agreement. However, I feel that French came up with a formula on which agreement can be reached when they told me that they were prepared to settle this question on basis of limiting free German trade with Saar by reasonable upset figures that would prevent German products from entering France duty free. This French thought has never been given to Germans and presumably will not be, until final negotiations. Bidault has told me that in last analysis he will not insist on representation for Saar as a separate state in various European bodies. This apparently was only other really serious question from German point of view.

One remaining difficulty on Saar is how to complete negotiations. Bidault, while continuing to praise Adenauer as a European statesman, has expressed considerable personal resentment at way Adenauer has handled Saar negotiations. He says that on one pretext or another Adenauer has never been willing at any time to discuss the Saar seriously with him. He even told me that in December Adenauer told him that there was no point in discussing Saar further until a more stable French government had been formed. As a result of this, Bidault now takes position that he will not have any further meetings with Adenauer on Saar, except for purpose of signing a completed agreement. Bidault’s annoyance with Adenauer is probably increased because of realization by French that they were out-maneuvered by Adenauer during last meeting here in Paris. At that time Germans orally presented to French, through Hallstein, a detailed proposal which departed from Van Der Goes report in a number of important respects and which was obviously not satisfactory to French as a solution. In answer to this, French made a counter proposal which they gave to Germans in written form. It is clear now to French, and they have so told me, that this was a tactical error as it enabled Germans to complain to all and sundry about unfair provisions in French document while at same time, German representations having been oral, there was no corresponding German document to which French could point to counter-balance German protests.

As I still feel that only way to reach agreement is for Adenauer and Bidault to sit down together, it seems clear that Bidault must be forced to abandon this position. Only way in which I see that this can be done is for Adenauer to ask for another meeting with Bidault and to give Bidault full assurances that this meeting will continue as long as necessary to reach an agreement and that Adenauer will this time discuss issues directly and personally with Bidault. On French side, this is [Page 909] preferable to having negotiating done by Maurice Schumann, who has become too much of an expert on Saar and, therefore, has developed considerable rigidity in his ideas. Bidault is also not happy that Adenauer chose this particular time to absent himself for nearly three weeks, therefore delaying negotiations by that length of time. I feel that we must do all we can to persuade Adenauer to make necessary arrangements for an early meeting with Bidault and that we and UK must be prepared at this meeting to use our good offices if necessary to ensure an agreement. If we can obtain a meeting under these conditions I consider chances of a successful conclusion are good.

  1. Repeated to London and Bonn.
  2. See editorial note, p. 803.