10. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Department of State1

13261. NATUS. Subj: International technological cooperation.

The Italian proposal for international technological cooperation was discussed in the NAC meeting March 1. In addition to Bowie and FonMin Fanfani, UK represented by Edmond Dell, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Technology, and Belgium by Spaey, Secretary General of National Council of Science Policy. The most important results of the meeting were (a) consensus that this was a highly complex problem which could not be solved by a give-away program by the US nor simply by concentration on technology; (b) the main responsibility for making progress in diminishing the gap belongs to the Europeans themselves, with some cooperation by the US at appropriate but later stages; (c) a consensus that duplication of effort among international [Page 22] institutions should be avoided. (None of these points were formally summarized as NAC consensus, however.) On procedure, NAC agreed on terms of reference for a special working group to draft a report for the Permanent Council to submit to the NATO Ministers in June (see below).
As for the complexity of the problem, most speakers said that if progress was to be made on narrowing the gap it could not be the result of a simple device. Fanfani for instance did not mention “sharing patents” or anything of this type in his remarks. He stressed instead the serious political consequences for the future if the gap is allowed to grow. The other main point of his remarks concerned procedure (see below). Dell warned that there was a danger in getting too involved with the gaps that exist in glamour industries. The real problems lay in less dramatic fields such as industrial management and market organization. Spaey also stressed the complexity of the problem and the need to distinguish between the study aspect and the operational aspect. Boon (Netherlands) stated that Europeans must avoid only analyzing symptoms and should get to the roots. In the Dutch view there were four key elements that made up the roots of the problem: 1) mentality, 2) management, 3) organization, 4) finance. He believed no progress could be made in any of these areas unless there was increased European integration.
There also seemed to be agreement that the Europeans had to tackle this problem themselves in the first instance. While the speakers did not ignore the possible cooperation of the US it seemed obvious that they realized that they could not and should not look to US initially for help. Spaey underlined that Europe cannot simply depend on US assistance but must grow to a point where there can be a profitable two-way exchange between Europe and the US. The primary responsibility of the Europeans was in the remarks of all speakers, ranging from the emphatic to the implicit.
Within the same range there was also agreement that duplication of effort among the international institutions had to be avoided. While it seemed to be agreed that NATO should initially identify the various aspects of the gap problem which come under cognizance of other international organizations and that NATO would eventually end up itself with the defense technology aspect, it was not wholly clear from the Europeans discussion how work between the OECD and the EEC would be split up or phased. Fanfani talked about 5 stages of activity which might take place in dealing with the gap: a) each country first takes stock of its national situation; b) then stock-taking by the EEC, by EFTA and then by both organizations as a whole; c) after that discussions between the two sides of the Atlantic; d) gap diminution efforts would then be widened to other European countries; [Page 23] and e) such efforts would then extend to other countries of the world. Greece and Turkey did not hesitate to point out that the 6 should certainly become the 8 when they discuss gaps and that special consideration had to be given to Greece and Turkey. Grewe (Germany) repeated the German position that the discussion should start in the EEC with non-members added. He did not mention the OECD, although most other members talked about the responsibility of the OECD.
Bowie’s remarks stressed the necessity to have a common definition of the problem, which is extremely complex involving many interrelated economic, social and technological factors. He agreed that much of the action will have to be taken in Europe, and assured NATO members that the US stands ready to cooperate. In addition to the role that NATO can play in the area of defense technology, Bowie underlined the fact that other international organizations have competence in different aspects of the over-all problem.

On the basis of a UK draft and considerable discussion NAC agreed on the following terms of reference for the special working group: “The Council decided to create a special working group to assist the Council in its study of the procedure which might be followed for further examination and implementation of the Italian proposals.

“The working group should in particular—a. define further the nature of the problems to be faced; b. report on the progress of the studies being made on the consideration of the issues by other organizations concerned; c. report to the Council on any means of furthering the achievement of the objectives set out in the Italian proposals; d. define the area of work which may properly be done within NATO, including particularly the area of cooperation in defense technology.

“The working party should prepare a draft of the report which the Council has to submit to Ministers at their meeting next June.”

Comment: This NAC meeting served very well to sharpen the focus of the Europeans on the gap problem. Although there was not a deep discussion of substance, it was nevertheless clear that movement so far seems to be in the right direction—the direction of Europe. The recognition by the Europeans that the problem, and its origins, are basically theirs seems to reflect conclusion that the more responsible thinkers on this subject are so far resisting the temptation to give it an anti-American twist. Accordingly, our current posture of standing ready to be helpful but not forcing the pace seems to be the right one.
A following cable reports meeting Brosio held this afternoon with Bowie and other visitors to get some drafting started.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, SCI 1–1 EURW–US. Confidential. Repeated to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Brussels for BUSEC, London, and Rome.