10. Telegram From the Mission at Geneva to the Department of State0

1423. London eyes only for Ambassador Bruce. Bonn eyes only for Ambassador Dowling. From Ball. Department telegram 20361. In company with Ambassador Dowling I had twenty-minute conference with Chancellor Adenauer yesterday.

I mentioned that we were watching with keen interest evolution Brit opinion toward possible adherence European Common Market. I said I had seen Heath in London and gained impression from him and others that Brit Govt was in process of making decision. Chancellor then asked when did I expect Brit Govt to make up its mind. I replied that [Page 22] presumably they would have to educate Brit opinion first and that Heath had said in reference to his speech in the House of Commons, “This is the beginning of the great debate”. I further said that Heath had indicated that this represented a major decision for Britain since it meant reversal of several hundred years of policy toward the continent.

The Chancellor responded vigorously, pointing his finger at me and saying, “Mr. Ball, don’t you know that that is just what Churchill and Eden both told me. They also said they were reversing hundreds of years of policy toward Europe. Then they set up the Western European Union which has been in a state of rigor mortis ever since”. The Chancellor continued, “No, Macmillan will never join in any serious move toward European unity. Heath might wish to and several of the other Ministers. Selwyn Lloyd I believe has been converted. But the Macmillan govt will never make the necessary decision”. He said that he had just discussed this matter with de Gaulle and that he and de Gaulle fully agreed on this view. That was why they had decided to move quickly to extend the political character of Community. They had decided to have political consultation by the heads of state of the Six four times a year and were going to move toward political unity as fast as possible.

Chancellor said that he and de Gaulle were convinced that some day Britain would join Europe but not while the Macmillan govt was in power. Macmillan would never make the necessary decision and he and de Gaulle had decided that they could not wait for the British.

I told him that we had felt that the best contribution the United States could make to the furtherance of unity was not to try to exert any pressure on the Brit but simply to insist from the point of view of American policy that while we would favor full Brit membership we could not accept with equanimity any proposals that would weaken the economic and political unity achieved by the Six.

The Chancellor replied, “That is the position for you to take”.

The vehemence with which the Chancellor indicated his and de Gaulle’s extreme skepticism regarding Macmillan’s intentions clearly suggest that de Gaulle is not likely to view a Brit proposal to join Common Market with hospitality. This impression was reinforced by statement volunteered by Carstens, State Secretary FRG FonOff, that he had been told by French that they had not yet made up their minds whether to agree to a Brit move at this time. Also other senior German officials present Saturday afternoon session with Chancellor and de Gaulle confirmed impression that neither de Gaulle nor Adenauer believe Macmillan is prepared to join Europe. They feel therefore they must go ahead and solve the major problems impeding movement toward political unity before conditions are ripe that will compel some later Brit Govt to take full decision.

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Under these circumstances I would urge that President exercise caution in any attempt to interpret Brit position to de Gaulle and that he avoid raising subject altogether unless Macmillan insists further. Otherwise danger President may find himself placed in middle of involved European dispute.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375.800/5–2461. Secret; Limited Distribution; Eyes Only. Repeated to London and Bonn.
  2. Printed as telegram 5456, Document 9.