12. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Common Market


  • US Side
    • The President
    • The Secretary of State
    • Mr. Nitze, Assistant Secretary of Defense
    • Ambassador Reinhardt
    • Mr. Tyler, Deputy Assistant Secretary
    • Mr. Schlesinger, Special Assistant to the President
  • Italian Side
    • Prime Minister Fanfani
    • Foreign Minister Segni
    • Ambassador Fenoaltea, Italian Ambassador
    • Mr. Fornari, Director General of Political Affairs
    • Mr. d’Archirafi, Diplomatic Adviser to the Prime Minister

The President said he had talked with Prime Minister Macmillan1 on this subject. It seems that British opinion is moving toward joining the Common Market, in spite of the problems this poses for the UK. He asked the Prime Minister what he thought the opinion of the Common Market countries is on possible UK membership. While this is primarily a European matter, he added, it is of interest to the United States in various ways, including the bearing it has on the future of Germany.

Fanfani said that he had conveyed Italy’s position to Macmillan during his visit in Rome at the end of last year. Italy welcomes the idea of the UK joining the Common Market, since it is particularly concerned lest the cleavage between the Sixes and the Sevens might grow deeper, and thereby result not only in economic but also in political frontiers between the two groups. This is why Italy wants to facilitate UK access to the EEC. She recognizes that the UK has problems, such as with regard to the Common Market, though these may possibly have been exaggerated. For example, Macmillan said that New Zealand was worried about selling her butter. Italy has no problem: she is prepared to stop buying butter from the Yugoslavs and Hungary and to buy it instead from New Zealand. Also the southern Commonwealth countries feared [Page 27] for their food and vegetable market in the UK. But this was merely a matter of watching the seasons and staggering the supply. A committee of experts on the subject had already met three times and had found no great problems in the way of a solution. As for South African wines, the problem has been taken care of by South Africa breaking away from the Commonwealth.

Fanfani went on to say that the problem of membership in the EEC is not so much economic as political, because of the instinctive reluctance of the British to join a supra-national organization. He said that it was important to recognize this and to do everything possible to bring the British in. Macmillan had said to Fanfani that he was not a die-hard conservative and that he was open to new ideas. The President commented that in spite of certain commercial disadvantages to the United States inherent in the organization of a large single European market, the benefit to us of a stronger alliance induced us to favor progress toward European unity.

Fanfani said he was sure that Foreign Minister Segni, who signed the Rome Treaty, was very pleased to hear the President’s last remark. He wished to assure the President that Italy would do everything possible to take US interests into consideration, and he had told Macmillan this. The President said he thought it would be advantageous for Italy, and for other countries such as Germany, to facilitate the UK’s admission to the Common Market. The Prime Minister said the President could rest assured that Italy would continue to work in this direction.

The President mentioned the problem posed by possible economic disadvantages to Latin America as a result of the EEC. The Prime Minister said that this problem had frequently been raised by people in Latin America during President Gronchi’s recent trip there. Fanfani had raised it himself with de Gaulle in Paris. This problem, he felt, must be solved but should be approached cautiously in order not to disappoint expectations. In seeking to protect Latin American interests by means of association, it would be necessary to consider carefully the problem of commodity surpluses, which has a bearing on prices and wages and on the stability of the economy. The Latin American problem was essentially threefold: 1) the need for training leaders, 2) the development of appropriate institutions and organizations, 3) the stabilization of prices and the disposal of surpluses.

In this respect EEC might first turn its attention to the third item, as a preliminary step on the road toward association.

The President said he had asked de Gaulle if the EEC could send an observer to the Montevideo conference in July. He had in mind a man of stature who could influence the trend of discussions constructively and smooth the approach to mutual advantage. Fanfani concurred with this idea. The President suggested that Italy consider how she might play an [Page 28] increased role in Latin America particularly in countries such as Argentina where she already has particular assets and good-will. Fanfani said he would look into the matter and see what Italy could do to be helpful, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Commenting on the sensitivities of the Latin Americans he would permit himself to say that he had occasionally been surprised by actions of US citizens in Latin America, but he thought that this had been doubtless due to the strain of competition. The President reiterated his view that it would be useful if Europe were to play a larger role in Latin America, since there were limits to what the United States could undertake. Fanfani said he was worried by the Communist offensive in Latin America. He thought that this might well be the next big battle-field which Khrushchev would choose, rather than Africa, in order to challenge and to seek to undermine the prestige and the position of the West. He thought that developments in Latin America should be carefully studied in the light of the assumption. Italy stood ready to play whatever useful role she could. She did not want the United States to add difficulties in Latin America to those we already had on our hands elsewhere. The President commented that he shared this view.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D149. Secret. Drafted by Tyler, approved in S on August 4, and by the White House on August 11. The meeting was held at the White House. Fanfani visited Washington June 12–13.
  2. See Document 3.