1. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1

Cedto 580. Pass OST for MacLeod, NSF for Haworth, Commerce for Holloman. Subject: Science Ministers Meeting.2

Science Ministers Conference January 12–13 concentrated on discussion papers prepared by interim committee. Agreement reached to continue science policy work, to meet again at ministerial level in two years, and to establish a working party to make proposals to OECD Council within three months for continuing work of interim committee in association with OECD activities.
Highlight of meeting was Dr. Hornig’s speech January 13 on fundamental research, text of which eagerly sought by other delegates and press.
Disparity in financial and scientific resources for R&D and in technological development between U.S. and Europe and between large and small countries was major underlying theme in discussions. Speaking for PriMin Harmel3 and noting his general comments on January 12, Ockrent especially emphasized growing technological gap between U.S. and Europe. He stated Europe can no longer “suffer” emigration its scientists. Lauding Marshall Plan for saving Europe from economic catastrophe after World War II, he asked for cooperative efforts to close “technological” gap to avoid “future catastrophe.”4 [Page 2] Sharply asserting that new technology kept from Europeans, he suggested U.S. investment in Europe should be not just in production but also in R&D. In reply, Dr. Hornig pointed out that aerospace and defense electronics industry development not closely related to civilian market and U.S. has no clear idea of magnitude direct economic effect of R&D in these fields.5 As to suggestion, he commented that if Europeans prepared make progress in economic integration, Kennedy Round and on monetary reform, then progress could be made in their obtaining new technology.
Smaller countries emphasized their special problems and emphasized need for international scientific cooperation.
French delegation was restrained and did not press argumentation on “technological gap” but left lead to Belgians in this respect. French hesitancy to formalize science policy activities within OECD framework was evident throughout discussions future work and possible institutional arrangements for its future conduct.
In sum, meeting, while devoted to science policy matters, focused primarily around economic, social and political effects of modern science and technology. Discussion seemed to clear air on some issues but European concern about technological gap, “brain drain,” and alleged failure U.S. companies carry out R&D in Europe, was not dispelled.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SCI 3 OECD. Limited Official Use; Priority. Passed to the White House.
  2. The January 1966 meeting of OECD Science Ministers was the second held by the organization. The initial session in October 1963 opened a debate on the importance of science and technology to the broader economic and social objectives of the OECD. At the 1963 session, Ministers commissioned a comparative study of national research and development efforts and agreed to reconvene in January 1966. The paucity of data uncovered by Professor Christopher Freeman of the University of Sussex led the OECD to redouble its efforts at comparison and analysis. The problems of disparity uncovered by these studies formed the basis for discussion at the 1966 session, and an additional series of studies on what became known as the “technological gap” was commissioned. For more information on the early years of OECD science policy, see Alexander King, Science and Policy: The International Stimulus (London, 1974). King was Assistant Secretary General of the OECD for Scientific Affairs, 1961–1974.
  3. Pierre C.J.M. Harmel of Belgium.
  4. The OECD was the successor organization to the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, which administered the Marshall Plan.
  5. Hornig’s comments are in telegram 4054 from Paris, January 14. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SCI 3 OECD)