5. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts in Europe1

1359. Brussels and Luxembourg pass USEC. Ref: Bonn 2451, 2454.2 Subject: Guidance re UK and European Political Union.

Despite momentary lull, the Six remain attracted, with varying degrees of interest and for different reasons, to new initiative for political union. Emboldened by their success in overcoming year-end Community crisis, they see a need and perhaps opportunity for further consolidating European Community and quite logically consider that next step should be political one. Some elements within the Five may be ready now or in the near future, in fact, to compromise and accept De Gaulle’s “confederal” concept with only limited if any “revision” clause looking to eventual “federal” union. During past year, insistence by Five has weakened on British involvement in political union discussions. Further, there appears to be less sensitivity by Six about relationships of EEC to non-member European states.
We would be concerned, as we have been in the past, if discussions and negotiations were to lead to inward-oriented “small Europe,” which had characteristics of excluding British for all time, promoting “Europe des patries,” and ignoring collateral policy of Atlantic partnership.
Odds seem against French view prevailing out of current flurry of activity. As Embassy Bonn points out, history of past several years has demonstrated that self-interest of other Five operates as considerable safeguard to our basic political and security interests in Europe.
Important to note ambiguity Erhard’s position. He emphasized during discussions in Washington in November3 and again December in Texas lack of parliamentary control over Common Market Commission. Referred vaguely to need for political authority but at same time turned back suggestions that answer could be found in directly-elected parliament. Nor did Erhard accept fact that Council of Ministers is institutional [Page 9] device to meet problem of high-level national political control. Noteworthy that Erhard’s thinking on these subjects has not substantially changed over last several years, e.g. he has resented EEC authority over number of economic questions and implication that Community engaged in economic planning. He also dislikes President Hallstein. While Erhard seems to have retreated from position favoring early heads of government meeting on political unity outlined in his Bonn press conference, it cannot be discounted that his thoughts as outlined above in certain respects seem closer to De Gaulle’s than to those of European integrationists. Question will be whether in longer run views of Schroeder or Erhard prevail.
Evidence suggests that Belgians, Germans and Italians—and, of course, Dutch—would insist, at least at outset any discussions, on three criteria on which the Fouchet proposal floundered:4 the integrity of NATO, no undercutting of three economic communities, and option that political arrangements could be revised to introduce principle of federalism. In view of the array of nations opposed to De Gaulle’s position, it seems unlikely that an early initiative will be launched.
British Government has been conducting intensive campaign to insure its participation in any new moves toward political unity and has asked for our support to this end.5 Even should we be wrong in our prediction that early initiative is unlikely, we do not see how United States could intervene to profit either the British or ourselves. In fact, expression of American views on a yet unborn proposition would hardly be persuasive with our friends and lend currency once again to epithet “Anglo-Saxons” which would be used against British (Deptel 4404 to London).
In this complex European situation American officials will have to move with care. While we want responsible Europeans to be in no doubt as to our views as to desirability or value of political unity, we do not wish to be charged with interference in matter. Against this background you may use foregoing analysis and following specific points to restate US views on European unity or in response on inquiries about US attitude on UK participation in any new initiative in this field: [Page 10]
Although we remain vitally concerned with form and direction of European unity, we intend to keep open mind and await clearer indication than we now have of nature and timing of any new move. At this stage, before any European state has put forward a specific proposal we may have best opportunity to reiterate our support of basic criteria outlined in paragraph five above, without opening ourselves to charge of interference in delicate internal community negotiations.
We feel that UK interests will be kept in mind and defended most capably by combination of Britain’s own diplomatic efforts and those of the Benelux countries, Italy and Germany. We would hope that Five will find it possible to defer any new initiative until after British elections as means of keeping European issue out of the British campaign.
Finally, it is clearly up to British to demonstrate to their Continental friends—and to skeptics as well—that in fact and theory they want to play a constructive role in making of Europe.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 3 EUR W. Confidential. Drafted by Schaetzel and Kaplan (EUR/RPE), cleared by Tyler and Hinton (RPE), and approved by Ball. Sent to Bonn, Brussels, Rome, Paris, London, Luxembourg, and The Hague.
  2. Telegram 2451, January 13, stated that recent events in Europe suggested that the United States should reassess its position on European political unity, outlined German thinking on the question, and proposed that Washington adopt a sympathetic posture toward political initiatives. Telegram 2454, January 14, asked Rusk and Ball for their personal consideration of the question. (Both ibid.)
  3. For a memorandum of Erhard’s conversation with President Johnson at the time of former President Kennedy’s funeral, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XV, Document 242.
  4. Reference is to the November 2, 1961, plan for political union proposed by the French politician Christian Fouchet.
  5. The British Ambassador had asked Rusk for U.S. support on January 13. (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330) On January 21, Tyler informed him that U.S. support of a British role in any movement toward European integration remained unchanged, but that direct U.S. involvement or representations would not be helpful and might raise charges of Anglo-Saxon interference in European affairs. (Telegram 4404 to London, January 21; ibid., Central Files, ECIN 6 EEC)