93. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, April 20, 19551
- European Coal and Steel Community (CSC)
- U: Mr. Hoover
- E: Mr. Waugh
- EUR: Mr. Elbrick
- RA: Mr. Barnett
- RA: Mr. Boochever
- Mr. Albert Coppe—2nd Vice President of the European Coal and Steel Community
- Mr. Edward Behr—Staff of CSC High Authority
In the course of a courtesy call at Mr. Hoover’s office, Mr. Coppe stressed the great value he attached to visits to this country by European business and labor leaders. After noting his own earlier skepticism regarding the usefulness of the European productivity teams which had come to this country, he cited the gradual and highly desirable change in European thinking that they were promoting. Mr. Hoover referred to his work as director of a U.S. fund which finances visits to the U.S. by Belgian leaders, and suggested that it might be useful if some of the fund’s awards were specifically for the purpose of familiarizing Belgians with the advanced work of our universities in Business Management and fields related to increased productivity.
Turning to an evaluation of the CSC, Mr. Coppe said it was rather surprising that the Community, despite all the difficulties contemplated and dire predictions, had gone into operation so easily and successfully. He said that many influential opponents of the CSC, including some in his personal acquaintance, were now warm supporters of it, and that the possibility of achieving European integration by successive stages was no longer in doubt.[Page 288]
Among the notable successes of the Community, he mentioned the removal of price controls throughout most of the coal and steel industry. This he described as producing a minor revolution in European thinking, which had become addicted to “dirigism.”
In answer to inquiries, he mentioned the current economic boom in Europe, and noted that it had not resulted from external forces, as traditionally in the past. He stressed that this development was giving Europe a new confidence in the ability of its economy to grow and expand.
Mr. Coppe mentioned various proposals to extend the scope of the CSC to embrace other economic sectors (transport, industrial and atomic energy), noting that there was no doubt that the existing Community would serve as the framework for any such extension of European integration on supranational lines. In response to a question about the possible title of such an expanded Community, he said that they were now using the title “Community for Coal and Steel” in order to facilitate the linking on of names of other economic sectors in the future.
Mr. Coppe emphasized that the inclusion of atomic energy in the Community would have a profound effect in promoting European integration, since it would identify the Community with the power of the future and capture the public imagination. Mr. Hoover noted that atomic power was, in fact, for the purposes of the Community, another way of generating electric power, and many of the problems of atomic power, e.g. transmission, etc., were actually problems common to electric power produced from coal or water power. Mr. Hoover also stressed that it would be a considerable time before atomic power could be produced economically, and there might be some danger to the Community of building up hopes of immediate benefits. Mr. Coppe said that he thought they could deal with that problem even if it took five or ten years before such power was in general use, so long as it was clearly on the way. He referred to the President’s interest in assisting other countries in developing peaceful uses of atomic energy and suggested that the U.S. might wish to consider directing its efforts in a way that would promote the integration of Europe.
Prior to the group’s joining Mr. Hoover, Mr. Waugh informed Mr. Coppe that attention in the United States, in connection with the Community, was focused on the question of restrictive business practices and the possibility of the CSC dealing with such practices. Mr. Coppe, in his remarks, noted that the European cartel tradition made the High Authority’s task an especially difficult one, but affirmed the High Authority’s recognition of the importance of using its powers to bring about more competitive conditions, and their determination to proceed ahead towards this objective. He cited the [Page 289] current stand against the powerful Ruhr coal cartel (GEORG) as a leading example of their effort to combat restrictive practices. Mr. Waugh also asked whether the High Authority would be able to use the U.S. loan in ways that would help combat restrictive practices. Mr. Coppe answered that this was not feasible. He cited other apparent benefits from the loan, however: in encouraging European lenders to offer credit to the High Authority, and to extend loans to CSC enterprises on terms which break away from the postwar pattern of short maturities and high interest rates. These favorable results of the U.S. loan were also referred to later in the conversation with Mr. Hoover.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 850.33/4–2055. Official Use Only. Drafted by Louis C. Boochever on May 2.↩