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58. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • West European Political Cooperation and US-European Community Relations

The memorandum from Secretary Rogers at Tab A2 reports on recent steps taken by the Six3 for regular consultations on foreign policy, which will also involve the four current candidates for EC membership.4 An outgrowth of the Davignon report,5 commissioned at the Hague European summit in December 1969 and adopted by the Community last July, the new procedures call for meetings of foreign ministers at least every six months, quarterly meetings at lower levels, and regular consultations among ambassadors accredited outside the Community on international problems of common interest. Since last November, three consultative meetings have been held. The Middle East has been discussed twice and will be a subject for further study. On the eve of the December NATO Ministerial meeting, the Six and the four candidates coordinated their position on a European security conference, agreeing that movement toward it be contingent on progress in the Berlin talks.

While too early to assess their significance, these new consultations do represent a step forward in expanding European political cooperation. The Eurogroup meetings on defense burden sharing last fall are a further advance. Noteworthy is the fact that the new political consultations are linked to the Community framework, which does augur for eventual expansion of the Community’s competence beyond purely economic affairs. But this is likely to take some time to develop.

As State’s memorandum suggests, we should encourage the new European consultation initiative, which is consistent with our support for European unity. It could lead to greater European interest in problems outside the NATO area. We will want to stay in close touch [Page 245]with this development, which could, of course, yield more coherent European views that diverge from our own on certain questions.

The Secretary also refers to possible new forms of US-European consultation, as suggested by Belgian Foreign Minister Harmel, Chancellor Willy Brandt, and others. Recently Harmel proposed the establishment of a formal committee or liaison group between the US and the Community, going beyond the existing informal Samuels– Dahrendorf consultations begun last fall,6 to address economic questions in more systematic fashion. State has encouraged Harmel to discuss this idea with other Europeans, indicating that we would welcome a European initiative. However, given the growing strains in our economic relations, it is not clear that a mere formal consultative mechanism would by itself aid much in settling points of contention. A related question also being discussed is the possibility of enhancing the Community’s representation here in Washington. We would favor such a development, but believe it will be some time before the Europeans can agree on a formula. The French remain reluctant to upgrade the status of the EC Commission.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 322, Subject Files, European Common Market, Vol. II. Secret. Sent for information. The memorandum is stamped: “The President has seen.”
  2. January 23; attached but not printed.
  3. France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
  4. United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, and Ireland.
  5. The Davignon report, named for Belgian diplomat Etienne Davignon, called for coordination of foreign policy as a way to begin political cooperation among the EC members.
  6. These consultations began in October 1970. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume III, Foreign Economic Policy, 1969–1972; International Monetary Policy, 1969–1972, Documents 44 and 47.