28. Telegram From the Mission at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations to the Department of State0

Polto 251. Reference: Topol 194.1

FTA negotiations continue present difficult picture to assess. However, following comments may be of interest and helpful:
Valery told Sergent and McCarthy yesterday morning that under no circumstances would French permit discussion FTA in ministerial council. Stated emphatically Pinay would walk out of meeting if subject even broached. When Sergent expressed surprise indicating Maudling would undoubtedly have to make status report on his assignment, Valery became more excited and said item would never be agreed to by French on agenda. When this subsequently reported Ellis-Rees, he [Page 52] expressed great irritation; said naturally hoped CIG meeting July 24–25 would be so successful that such French action would not be necessary. Indicated however British determination to bring matter to Council if necessary.
In prior conversation with McCarthy, Valery gave following assessment. Situation as far as French concerned:
He is not personally optimistic about outlook for success of negotiations.
French definitely do not want FTA at this time.
However, French do not want to be charged with responsibility for breaking off negotiations.
French already under heavy criticism for failure discharge other obligations and do not wish take on additional commitments.
If British try to force agreement before end of July and use strong arm methods they will be making big mistake.
Perhaps in fall negotiations could be resumed when some of more pressing French problems have been disposed of and then negotiations might be provisionally concluded in winter.
While British have made some concessions they have failed show right bargaining spirit on many minor points, making tasks of those in French Government who want to cooperate almost hopeless. French team consists of technicians who are lost in the trees and high level people who are unfamiliar with the economic problems, or people like Pinay who are frightened by the Patronat. The good Europeans are lost in this combination.
Sergent frankly confesses he cannot assess the situation, even after two-day meeting in London. On the one hand Maudling and Eccles appear determined come Paris with tough attitude. Other group on British team wish come with conciliatory attitude. Eccles told Sergent he will make plenty of news in Paris and there will be fireworks when he gets through speaking. Went on to say that since Heathcoat Amory will be in chair, he, Eccles, will be British spokesman.
French met all day yesterday at high level, with Rey participating. Meeting of Six on 23rd will presumably permit final assessment their position.
In view confidential nature discussions not repeating this cable other missions.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 840.00/7–1858. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution.
  2. In Topol 194, July 11, the Department of State asked USRO to make comments on and recommendations regarding the agenda items for the OEEC ministerial meeting to be held later in the month. USRO was particularly asked to comment on the FTA negotiations. (ibid., 840.00/7–1058)