109. Despatch From the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State 1

No. 23


  • Atomic Energy and European integration

When Mr. Palmer was here he indicated that the Department had in mind the possibility that further steps for European integration might be taken through the expansion of the work of the Coal and Steel Community into the field of atomic energy. Similarly instructions from the Department relating to the proposed work of the OEEC in this field have explicitly warned our representatives against approving the OEEC as the appropriate channel for European activity in atomic energy and instructed them to make sure that the way was kept open for the CSC to operate in this field.

Monnet has begun his campaign to arouse public opinion in Europe in support of a United States of Europe; Beyen has visited the U.K. on behalf of the six countries of the CSC to try to gain U.K. [Page 310] participation in the studies which they propose of further steps toward European integration. The communiqué issued in Messina is, however, extremely vague as to what these six countries have in mind. I am informed that Beyen gave practically no further clarification to the British ministers when he met them here. It would appear, therefore, that the six countries are starting in de novo to examine possible further steps toward the integration of Europe. It is also certain that they will run into extremely powerful opposition from vested interests in, industry and those having vested interests in existing institutions for European cooperation, such as the OEEC. The British are unlikely to give a very enthusiastic answer to Beyen’s approach; in fact, the answer they do give is certain to be very cautious and accompanied by many reservations. In addition the Scandinavian countries have a great deal of suspicion of any proposals of this kind emanating from the six countries. It would appear, therefore, that the road ahead for the proponents of integration is long and rough.

If one looks back at the origins of the institutions which now exist for integrated or cooperative effort on the part of the European countries, one is struck by the fact that each one of them came into being and derived its vitality from some major and immediate political need or because of some important outside catalyst. The CSC, for example, came into being primarily because of the compelling need of finding a way of rapprochement between France and Germany after the war. Its origins and the forces which brought it into being over much determined opposition were fundamentally political rather than economic. The OEEC was created by the Marshall Plan; its original function was to plan the use of U.S. aid. Later the highly constructive and useful European Payments Union came into being because the capital was contributed by the U.S. These institutions have been administered, and on the whole well-administered, by the Europeans. They are truly European institutions. But their basic parentage was American.

Similarly, NATO was made possible by U.S. contributions of men and military strength. WEU was made possible by the British promise to maintain troops in Europe.

As one looks around the European scene now, no such catalyst of further progress appears on the horizon. Much has been accomplished in the way of more effectively organized cooperation (as distinguished from integration) through the establishment of WEU and the expansion and perfecting of the work of NATO and the OEEC. But there seems to be little cause for hope that any further important move toward what might be called the Monnet type of approach can be expected.

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The only place where an outside stimulus comparable to those mentioned above would appear to be possible is in the field of atomic energy. So far, few vested interests exist in this field in Europe. The potentialities for development and use of atomic energy in such a big area as Europe are enormous. The cost to individual countries of developing separate resources would be tremendous. But they are likely to proceed along separate lines unless forestalled by something better.

Therefore if we genuinely believe that the integration of Europe can be furthered by development of a further supranational institution similar to the CSC, or through expansion of the CSC, it would seem that atomic energy offers the only real possibility for immediate action. Either we or the British could initiate it—perhaps we could do it jointly. The influence we could exert on the form of the European institution to be developed by reason of the contribution that we would be in a position to make would be great. We could in effect provide the capital for an atomic EPU.

If we are taking this idea seriously, we should act fairly quickly, either ourselves, or by trying to get the British to do it, or by joint action. Because if we don’t, countries will proceed as far as they can on a piecemeal basis (as we and the British are now helping them to do) and we will shortly find unscrambling or merger of individual country activities in the atomic field as difficult as in other more established forms of trade and energy.

For the Ambassador:
Winthrop G. Brown
Acting Minister for Economic Affairs
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 840.00/7–555. Official Use Only.