850.33/11–752: Telegram

No. 134
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1


2663. In view continuing discussion of Brit relations with CSC and other continental supranational organizations, fol restatement and summary Emb views may be helpful.

Brit are not enthusiastic re continental federation and it is clear they will not in foreseeable future become full member any continental supranational org. Internal political opposition is so strong, no Brit Govt cld survive if it attempted force such membership. Resistance to continental involvement is part of still influential mystique of commonwealth and empire. In addition Brit do not look with favor on development any body which might rival HMG as claimant for special relationship with US. Brit are also traditionally distrustful of development any hegemony of continent and are particularly distrustful present developments as they fear they will lead to Ger domination.
On other hand Brit will not actively sabotage development Eur Federation. They are unwilling to place themselves in opposition to US on this subj. They are fully aware strength of trend toward Federation and have therefore, decided to make the best of a not too favorable world from their point of view. Constructive Brit leadership in early development OEEC illustrates Brit reaction in this type of situation. Eden’s attitude public and private toward federation indicates clearly that basic Brit decision not to fight development has been made.
Current Brit policy is directed toward achieving a position of maximum influence with minimum responsibility. While this policy implies Brit linkage to 6-country institutions, precise character workable arrangements have apparently not been thought through by anyone. Desire for Brit association is, of course, also strong in many continental circles of which Mollet leading representative. Brit apparently believe that in this situation their interests can best be served for the present by keeping their position fluid and surrounding themselves with a certain amount of calculated confusion. As pointed out Embtel 1474, Sept 13,2 they are perfectly willing to carry this to point of embarrassing their representatives in the field. Weir’s inability to reply to Monnet’s pointed [Page 236] and logical ques (Paris Polto 500, Oct 213) is probably illustration this tendency.
We believe that in this situation US interests wld be best served by not taking positive part in attempting work out relationships problem. Arrangements worked out by Brit and continental protagonists themselves seem much more likely to result in constructive and stable development than measures adopted under what wld inevitably be interpreted as Amer pressure, no matter how gently we attempted to apply it. On basis both this and preceding para we have reservations re utility high level talks with Brit along lines discussed numbered para 1 Paris tel 2359, Oct 16.4
While we realize that CSC relationships are important, delicate matters which must be developed with great care, we wonder whether there is not tendency (for instance, first phrase para Nbr II Depcirtel 405 Oct 5 [10]5) to overstress pertinence traditional concepts of “sovereignty” in consideration these relationships. We believe it might be more practical regard currently developing continental supranationalism as modification traditional sovereignty concepts to meet needs modern world. Viewed in this light, consideration Brit relationship to CSC might concentrate less on legalistic argument re sovereignty and more on determining what Strasbourg powers really intended by their approval Eden Plan and what is mutually beneficial and politically practicable.6
  1. Repeated to Paris, Bonn, Luxembourg, Rome, The Hague, and Brussels.
  2. Document 107.
  3. Document 126.
  4. Document 124.
  5. See footnote 6, Document 118.
  6. In a memorandum to Perkins, dated Nov. 12, Raynor noted the importance of the comments on the concept of “sovereignty” contained in paragraphs 4 and 5 of this memorandum. Raynor also stated that he felt that the British were disposed to work out practical and constructive means of playing a role in the new European institutions and that the soundest course of action for the United States would be “to let this develop between the Europeans and the British without our injecting ourselves into it.” (Camp files, lot 55 D 105, “EPC—1952”)