740.00/2–1154: Telegram

No. 199
The United States Representative to the European Coal and Steel Community (Bruce) to the Department of State1


Coled 145. Subject is European Political Community.

Committee of governmental experts on EPC has accomplished very little since Paris meetings began on January 8, 1954. Committee is now preparing a report to be submitted to Foreign Ministers March 15. Report for most part will not go beyond listing of preferred solutions with explanations of reservations of different delegations. It is not expected that Brussels meeting of Foreign Ministers end March will produce any substantial progress, and no effort is being made to prepare way for an agreement by Ministers on even broad principles which might be used to facilitiate ratification of EDC treaty by French Assembly.2 In fact lack of progress in work on EPC is due in large measure to complete uncertainty as to whether French government wishes any agreement to be reached before ratification debate.
On one hand, French officials responsible for negotiations insist that Laniel is more interested in obtaining support for EDC ratification from lukewarm independents and ARS than he is in assuring support of Socialists, and that “supranational” aspects of EPC must accordingly be toned down. Efforts of these deputies to revise EDC treaty leave doubt that a basis can be found to obtain any substantial support for EDC from them. However, Laniel’s very persistence argues that he may have some understanding with his own group and at least a certain number of ARS.
On the other hand, Teitgen, Pleven, Reynaud and other “pro-EDC” members of government are determined “supranational” aspects of EPC must be upheld. Also, extraordinary congress of French Socialists is to be held just prior to EDC ratification debate [Page 362] to determine whether conditions for party support of EDC treaty—including among others subordination of EDC organs to supranational European political authority—have been adequately fulfilled. However, Mollet is not now actively seeking any agreement by 6 countries on EPC to fulfill this condition. He has claimed victory for Socialist position in changing attitude of French EPC delegation at Rome3 and has let it be known that he considered Bidault’s statements on EPC during pre-Bermuda4 debate as satisfactory. Because of basic split on this issue, Laniel government carefully avoided any endorsement by itself or by Assembly of Bidault’s statements on EPC.
Mollet may be willing to go before extraordinary congress on this basis. He and his Socialist friends are so committed in French political scene to role of “reliable pro-Europeans” that they may prefer to seek discipline vote from congress for EDC ratification with what they have on EPC rather than to risk being forced to abandon this “European” role by mere failure to obtain a more precise commitment on supranational features of EPC. Ease with which Mollet can side step EPC will depend in part on what he has to offer on UK association and US assurances.
Mollet has made considerable political capital from his being able to offer the firm support of large group of Socialists for a European policy to the pro-EDC groups in the present government. Anti-EDC members of present government majority would like nothing better than to put this firm Socialist support in doubt. Moreover, from viewpoint on the political alignments desired by independents and Peasants it would seem nearly impossible for Laniel to make things any easier for Mollet on issue of “supranationality” and still ask ARS support for EDC ratification.
Another reason for letting Mollet make best he can of present situation if he is willing to do so is fact that other nations particularly Benelux, will demand concessions from French on automatic procedure for increasing field of competence of EPC and on principle of common market in return for any immediate agreement on EPC institutions. Presentation to Socialist congress of a precise agreement on such concessions might do Mollet’s chances of obtaining discipline vote for EDC more harm than would an effort to defend work on EPC as being within framework of Socialist wishes.
In this uncertain situation best course of action for US would appear to be to encourage EPC conference in Paris to continue for [Page 363] present to revolve on dead center. Happiest development would be if Bidault could restate French government position on EPC in a manner that will enable Mollet to claim success for Socialist view and at same time let Laniel and Pinay argue with independents and ARS that future of EPC is still open.
We can look at situation again after Berlin conference. In any case any initiative on our part should be first with Bidault and not with Mollet. Almost any step to foster cooperation between Bidault and Mollet on EDC should be encouraged. The pre-Bermuda debate on European policy went sour because there was not the slightest effort made to organize the pro-EDC majority in the French Assembly. The pro-EDC leaders in each party assumed the majority would rise up by itself and it did not. On contrary pro-EDC deputies among Socialists on one hand and among independents and Peasants on the other did their best to keep one another from voting “pro-European.” Presumably at time of final debate “pro-EDC forces” will be prepared and organized to prevent a similar development. In fact, if pro-EDC leaders could concert effectively to exploit reluctance of uncertain deputies in all groups to vote with the hard opposition to the EDC, the French Assembly could still ratify EDC by a surprising majority.
  1. Repeated to London, Bonn, Rome, The Hague, Brussels, and Luxembourg.
  2. For documentation concerning the attitude of the United States toward a European Defense Community, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 571 ff.
  3. Regarding the Rome Conference, Sept. 22–Oct. 9, 1953, see Document 178.
  4. For documentation concerning the Bermuda Conference of the Heads of Government of the United States, United Kingdom, and France, Dec. 4–8, 1953, see vol. v, Part 2, pp. 1710 ff.