264. Editorial Note

On December 12, 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delivered an address in London before the Pilgrim Society of Great Britain as part of his effort to promote cooperation between the United States and Europe in all areas, including energy. Secretary Kissinger laid out the difficulties and possibilities of the “Year of Europe” that he had announced in April. (See Document 177) After stating the necessity for “renewing the Atlantic community,” Kissinger turned to the issues of the Middle East and energy. He told the audience that although the war and the U.S. effort to resupply Israel with weapons had some bearing on the energy crisis, the energy crisis was “the inevitable consequence of explosive growth of worldwide demand outrunning the incentives [Page 763] for supply. The Middle East war made a chronic crisis acute, but a crisis was coming in any event.”

Kissinger then stated that the only long-term solution was a “massive effort to provide producers an incentive to increase their supply, to encourage consumers to use existing supplies more rationally, and to develop alternate energy sources.” To achieve this, he proposed the establishment of an international Energy Action Group (EAG). The Group’s goal would be to assure energy supplies at reasonable cost through such mechanisms as conservation, discovery and development, incentives for producers to produce more oil, and coordination of research into new technologies. Kissinger stated that the Group should be composed of consumers and that producers would be invited to join from the beginning. He concluded that the United States was ready to make “a very major financial and intellectual contribution” to this endeavor. The speech, which became known as the Pilgrim’s Speech, is printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 31, 1973, pages 777–782.

Two major European responses followed Kissinger’s speech. First was that of the European Community (EC). The EC issued a declaration on December 15 at the end of its Summit meeting held in Copenhagen, reaffirming its November 6 declaration (see footnote 2, Document 262), which had called for the full implementation of Resolution 242 and confirmed the importance of European consumer nations negotiating with the oil producing countries. The December 15 declaration, without mentioning the EAG by name, stated that the EC found the U.S. proposal useful to deal with both the short-term and long-term energy problems of consumer countries within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (Telegram 3189 from Copenhagen, December 16; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) Kissinger wrote President Richard Nixon that the EC Summit was “unable to endorse the U.S. call for the formation of an Energy Action Group—settling instead for bland communiqué language that would send the problem to the OECD for study. The tone of the message also reveals the EC’s current determination to keep its distance from the United States.” (Memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, undated; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical Files, Box CL 145, Great Britain, Chronological, Jan–Feb 74)

The second response came from the December 19 meeting of the High Level Group of the OECD Oil Committee. According to telegram 32515 from USOECD Paris, December 20, there was a “strong consensus” in the HLG in favor of the EAG. Delegates of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and the EC Commission saw the proposal as an “imaginative and constructive initiative.” The French delegate was noncommittal. The Japanese delegate [Page 764] welcomed the proposal but indicated that Japan’s final view might be determined by the reaction of the oil producing countries. Most delegates thought the OECD would be a useful vehicle for an EAG. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)