Volume #17 - 866.|
WESTERN EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST
WESTERN EUROPE: GENERAL
EUROPEAN INTEGRATION: SCHUMAN AND PFLIMLIN PLANS
Memorandum by European Division|
ISCETP DOCUMENT NO. 51-36|
May 17th, 1951|
SCHUMAN PLAN - POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS|
Throughout the negotiations leading to the signature of the Schuman Plan Treaty the French Government made no attempt to disguise the fact that its motives were no less political than economic. Initially, there is little doubt that some of the political considerations which played a part in prompting the French to bring forward their proposal were dictated by narrow self-interest. In the face of failing prestige, France had been searching for a means of seizing the initiative in Europe in some dramatic way which would restore her to a position of leadership; it was also acutely conscious of the need to forestall a resurgence of German militarism by binding West Germany to an international organization capable of preventing the Bonn Government from abusing its ever-increasing political and economic powers. To this end, France was prepared to accept some sacrifice and risk.
2. Despite the existence of certain selfish motives, such as the foregoing, the Schuman Plan is dedicated essentially to the attainment of two lofty political objectives - a new understanding in Franco-German relations and the closer political integration of Western Europe through the creation of supranational institutions. These objectives, as well as the economic objectives of the Plan are set forth in the declared aims of the Treaty. These might be summarized as follows:
(1) To end the traditional antagonism between France and Germany and render war between them impossible by placing their basic industries under international control. Since the Plan involves a partial surrender of sovereignty to supranational authority on the part of not only France and Germany but also Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands as well, it constitutes a practical step towards the political and economic integration of Europe which France considers indispensable for the preservation of peace.
(2) To integrate and rationalize the production and marketing of the coal and steel resources of Western Europe in order to permit the most effective use to be made of Western European resources as a whole and to contribute to a higher standard of living.
3. Insofar as Canada is concerned, it is the broad political aims set forth in (1) above rather than the economic ramifications of the Plan which have won the general support of the Canadian Government. Indeed, judged on its economic merits alone the Schuman Plan might well fall within the category of restrictive economic proposals concerning which Canadian spokesmen have from time to time voiced reservations. Speaking before the House of Commons on February 22, 1950, Mr. Pearson had said, quoting from his statement at the Colombo Conference:
"We welcome the prospect of closer economic cooperation among the countries of Western Europe. Such a development might be expected to contribute to the military strength of the democratic countries concerned and also, by eliminating uneconomic production and encouraging competitive efficiency, to hasten the day when they would no longer require extraordinary financial assistance from abroad. It would also restore to countries occupied and ravaged during the war that sense of hope which they need now more than they need United States dollars. Western Europe could once again look forward to playing in the world the great role for which its history and the resourceful intelligence of its people qualify it."
This statement, though made before the coal and steel merger had been proposed, points up strategic and psychological virtues which are certainly present in the Schuman Plan. In the same statement, however, Mr. Pearson qualified his support of certain types of European economic proposals with the following words:
"Some of the proposals made recently seem to my Government to be as likely to encourage the development of new high cost industries ... as to lead to the objectives of greater efficiency and lower costs and prices at which they purport to be aimed. What must be avoided is the creation of a closed, high cost, inflationary bloc ... which would make progress toward a wider multilateral system of trade and payments more difficult."
This reservation applies at least in part to the coal and steel complex which will emerge from the Schuman proposals.
4. Notwithstanding reservations of this nature which Canada might have had on economic grounds, the Canadian Government did not hesitate to welcome the Schuman proposals when they were first made known, basing its support on the contribution which the Plan was likely to make to European unity and Franco-German understanding. Speaking in the House of Commons on June 5, 1950, Mr. Pearson said of the Schuman Plan:
"The recent French proposal for consolidating Western European coal and steel production under a single control is indicative of the imaginative approach to their problems that Western European nations are making. That is a very important development, as I see it, the importance of which may be as political as (it is) economic. It may mean a long step forward in ending the ancient feud between Gaul and Teuton which has caused so many dark things to be written on the pages of European history. I believe that this is an example of the new approach by Europeans to their problems, and we can only hope it will be successful, both politically and economically."
5. The decision of the United Kingdom Government to remain aloof from the Schuman Plan did not alter the Canadian Government's conviction that closer economic cooperation amongst the countries of Western Europe was indispensable to the security and internal stability of Western Europe. Earlier, the Canadian view on the general question of the relationship of the United Kingdom to developments leading towards European economic unity had been clearly stated by the Canadian Delegate to the Colombo Conference in the following terms:
"It is often said in Canada that in the short run at least such a (closed, European) bloc might do some damage to Canadian trade. I would hope that it would not be serious. Nevertheless, it might be better for us in Canada to suffer some temporary disadvantages rather than to see the prospect of closer economic cooperation which we believe to be necessary in Western Europe made impossible because the United Kingdom is unable to participate."
Relating this general Canadian view of the United Kingdom attitude to the Schuman Plan, Mr. Pearson made the following statement in the House of Commons on September 4, 1950, in reply to a question:
"The Schuman Plan, that wise and imaginative act of French statesmanship was not one which concerned this Government directly ... as it happens, we did informally tell them (the United Kingdom Government) that we thought this was an important and far-reaching Plan, the importance of which was possibly greater politically than economically, and that whatever the economic difficulties may be in carrying it out ... it would be unwise for any government not to fall in at once with the principle behind this Plan to further the integration, politically and economically, of the Western European countries. It would be unwise especially not to do everything to encourage the French in any proposal which may heal the age-long conflict between the French and the Teutons."
Speaking in the House of Commons on February 2, 1951, Mr. Pearson again emphasized Canada's military and political interest in European unity in terms which are applicable to the Schuman Plan as an important phase in the developments leading to such unity:
"So far as Western Europe is concerned - and this, I repeat, is the most vital area in the front line of our defence - the effort required is partly military and partly, in the broader sense of the term, political. The free nations of Europe are profoundly aware that their future security and prosperity depend in large measure on the unity which they can achieve among themselves ... if there were no other reasons for pressing ahead with these policies of European unification, the problem of Germany itself would make imperative the need for some form of European unity. If democratic Germany is to play her constructive part in a free Europe, it is essential that she should do so within the framework of a freely cooperative Europe coming closer together economically, politically and militarily."