9. Letter From the President’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Hornig) to President Johnson 1

Dear Mr. President:

On November 25, 1966, you asked me to chair an Interdepartmental Committee to examine the problem of the “technological gap” between the United States and Western Europe and to explore possible courses [Page 20] of action. The preliminary report which you requested by the end of January is submitted herewith.2

In this connection, the main issue which may face you in the near future concerns our position with respect to initiatives generated in Europe, such as the Fanfani proposal, and the development of constructive responses to such initiatives.

The term was originated by Europeans and has been surrounded by a certain amount of controversy and confusion. Therefore, the first effort of the Committee has been to clarify the reality behind the expression “Technological Gap”.

Our preliminary assessment convinces us that the Technological Gap is mainly a political problem although it has roots in actual disparities. A much higher degree of European economic integration will surely contribute in a major way to alleviating the underlying economic problems. We cannot be sure at this stage whether real progress will be made in this direction. U.K. entry into the Common Market offers the most promise at this time for narrowing technological/industrial disparities, though the success of the U.K. effort is far from certain. If progress is not made, widening disparities could pose longer range economic problems for the United States. Therefore, we have recommended a strategy to convert European resentment over the Gap into a constructive source of support for greater intra-European cooperation.

Furthermore, unless there is European progress in a host of factors, such as education at all levels, work habits, and management and marketing practices, as well as in properly conceived research and development programs, the U.S. advantage is not likely to be diminished.

Since the Gap is an important factor in U.S./European relations, we need to develop a deeper understanding of its economic and political aspects. We believe that we have identified the general nature of the problem, but our formulation will not be complete until we have heard further from the European governments, which are just now beginning to discuss the question among themselves.

We are also investigating specific actions this government could take both to show its good will and to deal with the substance of the issue, but are not yet prepared to recommend any of them to you at this time.

This report is, therefore, an interim report. Its main object is to define the political and economic problem as we see it, to outline a strategy for U.S. steps to be taken abroad in the near future, and to [Page 21] indicate the areas we are examining for possible action by this government and the European governments. We expect to submit a final report to you this June.


Donald F. Hornig

Robert R. Bowie
, State3
J. Herbert Hollomon
, Commerce
Donald M. MacArthur
, Defense
Samuel M. Nabrit
Arthur M. Okun
James E. Webb
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Office of Science and Technology, Vol. I [1967], Box 42. Confidential.
  2. Not attached. A copy of the report is attached to a February 3 memorandum from Bowie to Rusk. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, SCI 1–1 EURW–US)
  3. The following typed names appear on the source text.