17. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • European Integration


  • Robert Schuman, Former French Prime Minister and MRP Deputy
  • M. Herve Alphand, French Ambassador
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Matthew Looram, WE

The Secretary asked how negotiations were proceeding between the continental European powers and the U.K. with regard to the Free Trade Area. M. Schuman replied that this was a very difficult issue. The French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Maurice Faure, was having serious problems in this connection and had asked his (Schuman’s) assistance in the matter. As a result, M. Schuman stated, he had recently made a trip to England to discuss the issue with the British Government. He had told the British at that time that it was important they do nothing to interfere with the progress being made toward political integration of Western Europe, which had been greatly enhanced by the Common Market Treaty. Schuman was, nevertheless, convinced that it was equally necessary to reach some form of agreement with the British. “We are condemned to live together,” he said. The United Kingdom needed the Western European markets, and on the other hand, any U.K. reprisals would have grave effects on the Western European economy. M. Schuman added that the French Government was having talks with the German Government with a view to seeking a compromise formula. The Secretary mentioned in this connection that he had seen Erhard a few days ago.1 Schuman said Erhard, by temperament a liberal in economic matters, was considerably more disposed toward the Free Trade Area than to the narrower framework of the Common Market. This was another reason, he said, why an agreement must be reached with the United Kingdom and also with Scandinavia and Switzerland, as “we cannot be sure of our partners.” The Secretary stated that the whole matter was, also, of great interest to the United States, given the extensive [Page 31] American trade with Europe. It was our understanding, he said, that the Common Market would not be protectionist or incorporate discriminatory measures against United States trade. “It must not be,” Schuman replied.

In concluding, the Secretary said he wished to congratulate Schuman on his recent election as President of the Council of Europe. Schuman thanked him and said it had given him much personal pleasure. The election had been unanimous and Schuman had not even been a candidate. Asked about the future site for the European institutions, Schuman said this had not yet been chosen. He thought that it would be preferable to have a small place, something similar to the District of Columbia located possibly between Strasbourg and Kehl, rather than a large city like Paris or Brussels. The Secretary said that in any case, Schuman should be proud to witness the realization of all his efforts. He was the “father” of European integration. “Possibly grandfather”, Schuman chuckled, but the important thing was, he added, that the concept of European integration was gaining among the youth in France.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by Looram.
  2. German Economic Minister Ludwig Erhard was in Washington March 24–26 for conversations with officials of the Departments of State and the Treasury.