103. Despatch From the Chargé in Italy (Durbrow) to the Department of State 1

No. 2568


  • Foreign Minister on European integration

There is enclosed a Memorandum of Conversation dated June 14 between Foreign Minister Martino, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury [Page 300] Overby, and Ministers Durbrow and Tasca.2 In the course of the conversation, Foreign Minister Martino expressed concern that during the past months there has been no strong expression of interest in European integration on the part of the United States. Foreign Minister Martino also expressed the hope that either the Secretary of State or some other high American official could find the opportunity in the near future to make a strong statement to the effect that the United States still regarded European integration as an important objective.

In connection with the Foreign Minister’s remarks to Mr. Overby, it is of interest that at the time this Embassy outlined to the Foreign Office the views contained in Deptel 3849 of May 30,3 there were several private comments by Foreign Office officials expressing regret that the U.S. had not seen fit to give stronger support not only to the idea of European integration, but also to the CSC as the sole European institution with supranational authority. These officials recognized that the United States would not and could not become involved in the choice of the timing and structure of European integration, but they believed that a neutral statement of general support for integration, following the extremely active support of EDC, might be interpreted as a decrease of United States interest in the achievement of a workable integration of Europe in the economic, and eventually political, fields.

The Italians still consider full European integration as a cardinal point of their foreign policy, but are aware of their deficiencies in relation to acting as a guiding spirit. As the weakest nation economically of the six CSC countries, Italy must proceed with some caution in the process, but there is little doubt that Italy desires progress of a general nature on the road of integration.

At Messina the Italians were concerned by the fact that the French insisted that they could not accept any arrangement which might require another Parliamentary debate involving the European system. The Italians were also concerned that the Germans showed signs of irritation with the French position and made it clear that Germany no longer saw reason for it to take advanced European positions when France always held back. Added to these preoccupations was the then unofficially expressed worry that the United States was becoming luke-warm toward integration.

The Embassy believes that Foreign Minister Martino’s request for a statement by the United States merits serious consideration. At the same time, it is noted that the Netherlands Foreign Minister believes [Page 301] that the present is not the time for United States encouragement to be most effective (The Hague’s telegram of June 7 to Department,4 repeated Rome unn). In any event, it might be desirable for the United States to give further private indication at this time that European integration continues to be a most desirable goal.

Elbridge Durbrow
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 850.33/6–1755. Secret.
  2. Not printed. Andrew N. Overby was in Italy as part of a larger trip to several European countries, following the OEEC Council meeting in Paris.
  3. Document 95.
  4. Reference is presumably to telegram 1937 from The Hague, June 8, in which Chargé Andreas G. Ronhovde reported on a recent conversation with Foreign Minister Beyen. Beyen summarized his impressions of the Messina Conference, indicating that he was encouraged by its results. “He said he was extremely grateful for United States moral support, which he said was and is invaluable” Ronhovde noted, “but he thought it was yet too early for active United States encouragement to be most effective.” (Department of State, Central Files, 850.33/6–855)