69. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

7884. The most interesting and I believe the most useful portion of my conversation with De Gaulle today dealt with Great Britain and the Common Market.2 I began by saying that while the U.S. of course was not directly involved I would very much appreciate his letting me have his views on the British tentative bid for entry into the Common Market.

De Gaulle said while of course he could not decide what others intended to do it was his impression that England was “not ready” to join the Common Market and would seek to obtain concessions from the other members. I told him that according to our information the British were very serious about joining the Common Market but on the supposition that Great Britain would join the Rome Treaty without concessions to her interest with merely a transitional period. What did he think then would be the possibility? I mentioned in this connection the problem of the pound sterling. De Gaulle immediately said that this would have to be settled; that it was not possible for a member of the Common Market to have the burden of sterling balances or the pound with its position as a reserve currency. I then asked him about the so-called political questions of which we occasionally heard here in France, referring to his statement in the press conference of the Nassau Agreements. De Gaulle then gave quite a long dissertation to the following effect:

He said if Europe was to be formed it would have to be European in outlook and in action; that if the Economic Community of Europe was to ever develop into any political direction all its members would have to have a European point of view, and in reply to my specific question he admitted that close relations with the U.S. such as England had, and, added parenthetically, Germany sought to have were incompatible with this European outlook. He was quick however to say that he was not speaking about the policy of the U.S. but of the attitude of countries, i.e., England and Germany towards it.

I said to him that since it was obvious that any question of the formation of Europe would take a long long time, to which he agreed, [Page 135] how did he expect the relations between an individual country and the U.S. to develop during this interim period. This question seemed to set him back a little since he said of course America could and should have excellent relations with all members of Europe, but he did not think they should be in any way privileged or special as was the case of England and as the Germans tried to achieve.

Comment: De Gaulle for him was quite specific in his attitude toward Great Britain joining the Common Market. He professed disbelief in their willingness to accept the conditions of the Common Market but even if that occurred he raised objections, particularly in regard to the position of sterling and in the larger and much vaguer field of relationships with the U.S.

I do not know how this should be handled with the British since we do not wish to have any responsibility for chilling the British effort. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to tell them in very general terms without being specific. I would appreciate Department’s guidance for dealing with Ambassador here.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, France, Vol. 10. Secret;Exdis.
  2. Bohlen’s report on De Gaulle’s views regarding NATO is printed in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIII, Document 220. His report on the portion of the discussion dealing with Vietnam, telegram 7883 from Paris, November 24, is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 27 VIET S.