6. Memorandum by the President’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Hornig)1


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Secretary of Commerce
  • The Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • The Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers
  • The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission


  • Technological Disparities between the U.S. and Western Europe


  • National Security Council Action Memorandum No. 357

I have been asked by the President to chair an interdepartmental committee to examine the problems generated by the increasing concern in Western Europe over possible disparities in advanced technology between the United States and Western Europe, and to explore courses of action. A preliminary report to the President is due January 30, 1967.

It is the purpose of this memorandum to request the early designation of a representative of your agency to serve on the committee, and to provide background for discussion at its first meeting which I propose to hold in Room 213 of the Executive Office Building at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, December 9th.2

Although there have been many discussions of the matter (see attached background material), little has emerged in the form of specific proposals that would be appropriate and effective in dealing with the root causes of the European concern which has been expressed primarily at political levels in Europe. As the NSAM points out, there is less agreement on its nature and extent of the technological gap, its causes and possible remedies. It is clear that the problem is exceedingly complex and that no single factor such as relative technological capabilities or investments in R&D is responsible for differences in competitiveness [Page 11] within industrial sectors. Management attitudes, market size, availability of venture capital, educational infrastructure, mobility of technical manpower and ideas, among other factors, are necessarily involved.

In light of the developments to date, it is timely to consider and devise constructive approaches to U.S.-European cooperation whereby the U.S. might appropriately facilitate technological advance and industrial innovation in Europe without restraining such advance in the U.S., and to utilize technological and industrial advance as a unifying rather than a divisive force in the Western community. The work of the committee should bring about a common understanding within the government of the nature of the problem, and should develop major new initiatives and a strategy for carrying them out through new modes of cooperation as well as through the various agency contacts with European governments and international organizations.

In consideration of the above, the following questions come to mind.

First, there are questions of policy and research cooperation, including:

What can, or should, the U.S. do to assist the European countries in acquiring (or regaining) status as leaders in scientific and technological advance?
Is the objective of meeting the concerns of European countries over deficiencies in technological capabilities in conflict with the need to maintain a vigorous pace of technological advance and innovation in U.S. industry?
How can European concern over the technological gap be channeled to promote a new spirit of cooperation among European countries leading to economic and technological integration and the creation of a more favorable climate for the growth of innovative industries?
In what ways can U.S. governmental policies influence industrial arrangements between U.S. and Europe, e.g., “Buy American” policies, licensing arrangements, joint ventures, investment in R&D in Europe, tariffs, tax and anti-trust policies, etc.?
To what extent can NASA and DoD research, development and procurement programs admit European companies on a basis competitive with U.S. industry?
Should measures be taken to lessen the migration of scientists and engineers from Europe to the U.S., e.g., through changes in visa procedures, control of recruitment practices of U.S. government contractors, etc.?

Second, there are questions of organization and approach to European governments, including: (a) what combination of European countries are we encouraging to develop cooperative proposals—NATO, OECD, other; should similar cooperation be extended to Eastern Europe; (b) what is our position on the respective roles and activities of existing organizations, particularly NATO and OECD; use of international scientific organizations such as EURATOM, ESRO, ELDO; involvement of [Page 12] other organizations such as EEC, ECE, the Coal and Steel Community; (c) should further European initiatives be encouraged to organize intra-European discussion and to consider new forms of cooperation and organization (such as a Technological Community or a ten-year plan)?

At the first meeting of the committee, I hope that your representative will be prepared to present views on the character of the problem, on the nature of your agency’s involvement with the various facets of it, and on the questions that have been raised above, among others.

Additionally, I would like to encourage you to submit any suggestions or proposals deserving future study or action by the committee.

Donald F. Hornig



As Mr. Moyers indicated in the attached transcript of the White House News Conference on November 26th (Attachment A),4 the creation of the committee is the result of a number of discussions during the past year between the President and heads of European governments and between other governmental officials. The development of European skills in advanced technology was discussed by President Johnson and Chancellor Erhard in December 1965 in the context of cooperative ventures in outer space.5 The subject of the technological gap was mentioned during the Erhard visit of last September when the President indicated that the United States stands ready to respond to any proposals by our European allies in the area of advanced technology. Reference was made to the initiatives of the Italian Government (Attachment B).6 The matter was discussed further with Mr. Webb and with me during a visit last spring by the German Minister of Science Gerhard Stoltenberg, and by Mr. Webb during his visit to European capitals.

More recently the subject was dealt with in the New York speech of the President on October 7th and in the addresses of the Vice President and Secretary Connor during the Commerce Symposium on Technology and World Trade.

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Belgian Prime Minister Harmel at the meeting of the Ministers of Science and OECD countries last January made a strong plea for U.S. technological cooperation; a copy of my response is attached (Attachment C). Also attached is a letter to me from Mr. Harmel, now Belgian Foreign Minister (Attachment D).

As an outcome of the Ministers of Science meeting, the OECD Science Policy Committee has recently initiated a study of the differences in technological potential among OECD countries which will include a detailed examination of nine industrial sectors and will attempt to analyze all of the factors that influence the exploitation of technological potentials in attaining economic and other national objectives (Attachments E and F).

The U.K. interest in this problem has recently been expressed in an address by Prime Minister Wilson on November 14, 1966, calling for the creation of a new European technological community (Attachment G).

The French have raised this theme on a number of occasions, for example in computers and satellite communications, and in discussions I have had with French Minister of Science M. Alain Peyrefitte.

U.S.-European cooperation in advanced technologies has also been mentioned in the NATO context as a means to achieve greater cohesiveness among member nations. It is raised, for example, in the Fanfani proposal.

Perhaps the best summation of the European point of view on U.S.-European technological disparities is expressed in the attached talk by Mr. Theodore Lefevre, former Belgian Prime Minister, given at Harvard last December (Attachment H). On the other hand, a study by Joseph Rosa shows that the rate of economic growth in most Western European countries over the past 15 years compares very favorably with that of the U.S. (Attachment I).

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Papers of Donald F. Hornig, Box 4. Confidential. Drafted by David Beckler.
  2. Robert R. Bowie, Counselor of the Department, was designated as the State representative to Hornig’s committee. (Memorandum from Read to Pollack, December 6; Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 72 D 316) No record of this meeting has been found.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. None of the attachments has been found. On November 30 the Department transmitted the transcript of the press conference to European posts in circular telegram 94188. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Office of Science and Technology, Vol. I (1966))
  5. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pp. 1165–1167.
  6. For a summary of this initiative, see Tab A to Document 4.