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

118575. Subj: Technological Gap.

Following is general guidance on technological gap. Specific guidance for USRO action in NATO context as requested Paris 99792 by septel.
At December NATO Ministerial Meeting, Ministers recommended that North Atlantic Council perm reps study the procedure which might be followed for further examination and implementation of Italian proposal on technological gap, and report findings to Spring Ministerial meeting.
Three facets of technological disparities problem are politically important to U.S. First is problem of “technological gap” between Western Europe and U.S. which is primary subject this guidance. Second is implication any U.S. response may have in East-West context. Third is fact science and technology disparities is global problem and great gap between industrialized countries and LDCs is grave problem for economic development and world stability.
In one sense “technological gap” is by-product of American economic and military superiority over Europe and European reaction to this predominance. Europeans concerned that European industry will be unable to compete with marketable products of advanced technology even though technological superiority today in some areas rests with Europe. Gap concept reflects fear of “bigness” and is consciously used to stimulate larger government investment in science and technology. Problem unlikely be resolved in foreseeable future because Europeans unable on national basis to marshal resources needed to transform their societies at same pace as U.S.
In responding to gap problem, we will have three inter-related U.S. objectives: (A) in first instance, to deal directly with European attitude that U.S. is somehow responsible for gap; (B) to try to transform European concern with technological disparity into impetus for furthering intra-European cooperation and cohesion including UK relations [Page 15] with continent and European Communities; and (C) to improve Atlantic relations and strengthen OECD and NATO.
In pursuit of these political objectives, U.S. should:
Indicate general willingness to cooperate with Western Europeans and to welcome initiatives, including that of Italians, leaving to Europeans responsibility for developing specific proposals which involve intra-European action and agreement.
Actively continue mutually beneficial cooperative programs and joint projects underway and develop appropriate new ones in nuclear energy, space, exchange scientific information, in cooperative research as now carried out in OECD and in defense-related R&D and production. Institutionally Euratom provides an excellent partner for nuclear energy cooperation. We stand ready to cooperate in space activities with ELDO, ESRO, and bilaterally.3 In OECD, cooperative research program is being more focused on problems of modern societies, water and air pollution, highway and auto safety research and problem of urban society. Moreover, major study of technological potentials has begun which we strongly support. NATO in addition to its science program provides opportunity and has machinery to deal with defense-related R&D and joint production as members may decide.
Review internally those policies and practices which lead to European charges that U.S. is responsible for “technological gap” and consciously seeks to maintain it. These may include a reassessment of our export controls, a look at U.S. corporate practices abroad, U.S. visa and immigration policy, and field of restrictive business practices. In this re-examination, U.S. must keep in mind that it would not be in our interest to restrain U.S. competitive position or to give away American technology through a Marshall Plan type program. Our aim is to diminish disparities through promoting a two-way flow of cooperation. At same time, we must recognize that the greatest volume of scientific and technological exchange occurs in private or commercial channels, and that role of U.S. government is minimal or merely facilitative.
Pursue action on a low key which would support UK in using her considerable resources and strengths in field of science and technology as leverage for membership in the European Communities.
React generally with restraint and minimum publicity to gap problem while Europeans are in process of sorting out their approach to this subject.
Point out that much greater gap in education, science, technology and the other benefits of modern society exists between industrialized countries of OECD and LDCs. It is this gap which must be reduced in interest of world peace and stability.
U.S. is already fully committed to support basic study of composition and characteristics of gap by OECD. Results of this OECD analysis may remove mystique of “gap” and demonstrate that many aspects of solution lie in European actions such as scales of market, organization, education, corporate structure, management techniques, etc.
Fanfani also introduced this proposal into EEC Council of Ministers prior to NATO Ministerial. A thorough examination of “technological gap” is scheduled for EEC consideration early in 1967. Beyond this, British prefer avoid arrangements or institutions which would undercut their efforts to use technology as lever in effort to join EEC. Impulse toward integration would be best served if European Communities in concert with UK were to accept major responsibility for development of measures and institutions to deal with technological gap.
In short, we support pluralistic approach to scientific and technological cooperation, utilizing whole range of existing institutions. As short term measures this sense, in absence of European grouping which could effectively push European reforms and proposals for joint actions, we propose place greatest emphasis on OECD structure as vehicle for our discussion with Europeans, advancing our general philosophy on subject after it takes shape in interim report to President about January 30. Main role of NATO discussion in present phase as we now see it is to sort out organization aspect, break up problem into components which can be handled by NATO and other organizations. U.S. will lend full support to this effort.
In addition to what may be done in framework of existing institutions an eventual special US-European conference on matter might be desirable. Such a conference, however would be premature until NATO and OECD actions clarify this complex subject.
  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 all NATO and OECD capitals and USRO. Drafted by Percival (EUR) on January 11; cleared by Jacob M. Myerson (RPM), Oswald H. Ganley (SCI), William M. Kerrigan (E), Jonathan Dean (C), and Springsteen (EUR); and approved by Bowie.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Documents 21 ff.