No. 18
Foreign Secretary Eden to the Secretary of State1


I fully share the desire, which you expressed in your message,2 to hasten as much as humanly possible the conclusion of the Treaty establishing the European Defence Community and the contractual agreements with the German Federal Republic. I am grateful to you for explaining so clearly the difficulties which further delay would cause for you with the United States Congress.

Her Majesty’s Government have just announced the proposed guarantee by the United Kingdom of the E.D.C. Treaty. Our decision to take this action has been warmly welcomed by the governments participating in the E.D.C. conference and should, I think, greatly help them in bringing their work to an early conclusion.

As regards the German contract, you will have heard that the three High Commissioners have been discussing the future programme with the German Federal Chancellor. These discussions suggest that the earliest date on which we could hope to have the various documents ready for signature would be between May 15th and 20th. Like you I wish it could be earlier. But there are still several important questions to be resolved. In particular, we must allow ourselves time to get the very important financial provisions fully agreed. Any attempt to set too early a date would result in disappointment, if a postponement becomes inevitable. It might [Page 31]also encourage the Germans to believe that we might be brought to accept some very general assurances only in the financial field and to leave over for later settlement the necessary concrete provisions such as the amounts to be allocated between the allied forces and the German contingents. It would not be possible for Her Majesty’s Government to agree to such an arrangement. I hope therefore that you will feel able to accept a date between May 15th and 20th as our target and that you will also agree that we should not commit ourselves publicly to any date until we can see our way rather more clearly, more especially on finance.

I agree with you that the German contract and the E.D.C. Treaty should be signed at about the same time since they are in effect two parts of the same settlement. I recognise that it might be more convenient if they could all be signed at the same place and I have considered your proposal of the Hague. This is a matter in which we shall have to take full account of the wishes of the other governments concerned. But it does not seem to me very appropriate that the German contract should be signed in the capital of a country which is not a party to it. It would also be well to mark the fact that Paris has been the centre for the negotiation of the E.D.C. Treaty. Moreover it is possible that we may have to have further tripartite and quadripartite meetings of Ministers before signature, in order to reach final agreement on the financial provisions of the contract, and these would have to take place in one of the capitals concerned, e.g. Paris. My own preference thus still is for signature of the E.D.C. Treaty in Paris and of the German contract in Bonn. I should have thought that the latter would have great psychological significance in Germany, a factor of real importance at a time when the Soviet Government are wooing German public opinion. I therefore feel that the advantages of separate signature in the two capitals outweigh the inconveniences to which you refer.

I have since heard that the Chancellor has informed Mr. McCloy that he is agreeable to signature of both instruments in the Hague.3 But I still think that there is much to be said for Paris and Bonn and that we should probably be well advised to arrange signature in these two capitals. I am thinking particularly of the [Page 32]future. Germany’s new participation with the West should surely be completed on German soil.

I am sending copies of this reply to the other recipients of your message.

  1. According to a note dated Apr. 18, attached to the source text, Eden’s message was delivered to the Department of State by an official of the British Embassy on Apr. 17. The note also states that the message had been seen by Bruce and Acheson. The source text bears the heading “Text of a message dated 16th April, 1952, to Mr. Acheson from Mr. Eden”.
  2. Transmitted in telegram 2523, Document 16.
  3. On Apr. 15 McCloy had also reported that Adenauer was willing to accept The Hague as the place for signing both the EDC and the contractuals. (Telegram 2379 from Bonn, Apr. 15, 662A.00/4–1552) The following day McCloy reported that the High Commissioners had met with Adenauer to discuss the timing for the signing of the EDC and the contractuals and that both Kirkpatrick and François-Poncet felt that May 20 was the earliest possible date. (Telegram 2391 from Bonn, Apr. 16, 662A.00/4–1652) Apparently these reports constitute Adenauer’s answer to Secretary Acheson’s message, since no formal reply has been found in Department of State files.