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A documentary history of monetary and financial cooperation in Europe. 1947-1974
Monetary cooperation, in the sense of different political entities adopting or supporting a single coin or currency to foster trade and economic development, has had a long history in Europe. Its roots reach as far back as Roman times. In post-1945 Europe, ideas and reminiscences of such cooperative endeavours, notably those undertaken in the latter half of the 19th century, struck a chord. Recovering from the gravest conflict in history that had brought unprecedented suffering and devastation, more than a few European thinkers and policy makers regarded such unions as exemplary. The particular circumstances of the late 1940s formed the backdrop to renewed promotion of monetary cooperation in talks between nations that had, until recently, been at war with each other. An attractive prospect of a stable monetary island where badly needed economic reconstruction would profit from the abolition of barriers to trade beckoned on the horizon.
This book does not cover the entire ascent of ideas from the late 1940s to the creation of the euro area in 1999 and the euro’s subsequent introduction as a common currency in 2002, but focuses on the exchanges that took place up to the adoption by the European Council, on 8 and 9 June 1970, of the basic plan for the achievement by stages of an economic and monetary union at the European level. This, after all, was the crucial turning point in the process moving from option to necessity. In December 2010 it found its wording in the stated conviction of the euro as our ‘common fate’, and Europe as our ‘common future’ – to quote the German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the German Parliament, on the eve of one of the summits to discuss the monetary crisis enveloping Europe since 2009. Her statement subsequently became one of the cornerstones of German policy in this respect.
The recent crisis has highlighted the challenges and difficulties of financial and monetary cooperation in the European Union (EU). This publication seeks to contribute to the quality of the debate on this subject by offering a more historical perspective. Its contents will reveal that the basic issue to be resolved – how to organise effective monetary cooperation between ultimately sovereign states – has remained the same over time. To demonstrate this and shed light on various past approaches to overcome this fundamental dilemma, this book offers a selection of primary sources from the period after the end of the Second World War until 1973, when the important decisions to move towards adopting a single European currency had been taken. Together they provide an insight into the political and technical issues surrounding the process towards an economic and monetary union from the early days of European integration. Before moving to the core of the book, the selection of sources, this introduction will provide a short overview of monetary integration in Europe up to the end of the Second World War, as well as information on how the book is structured.
Marc Dierikx (ed.), Mari Smits, Loes van Suijlekom, Frédéric Clavert, Elena Danescu, Marco Gabellini, Common fate, common future. A documentary history of monetary and financial cooperation in Europe, 1947-1974 (Den Haag/Sanem: Huygens ING/CVCE, 20120).
Te bestellen via de webshop van Huygens ING.
List of digital references
Introduction to document 1.
Note 25. Bank of International Settlements, Eighteenth Annual Report, 1st of April 1947-31st of March 1948. [EN]
Document 1. Note to the Netherlands Minister of Finance (Piet Lieftinck) on inter-European monetary cooperation, 27 October 1947. [NL]
Addendum: Proposed initial agreement on multilateral monetary compensation [FR]
Introduction to documents 2 and 3.
Note 33. Telegram from Dean Acheson to the US Embassy in Paris, Washington, 19 October 1949. [EN]
Note 35. Statement by ECA Administrator, Paul Hoffman, at the 75th OEEC Council meeting Paris, 31st October, 1949. [EN]
Note 39. Record of Conversation on Fritalux, Foreign Office UK, 14 December 1949. [EN]
Document 2. Memorandum presented by France (Hervé Alphand) on economic and monetary cooperation in Western Europe, 14 November 1949. [FR]
Note 41. Résolution relative à de nouvelles mesures de coopération adoptée par le Conseil le 2 novembre 1949. [FR]
Document 3. Report of the experts of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on the establishment of an economic and monetary association in Western Europe, 9 December 1949. [FR]
Introduction to document 4.
Note 45. British memorandum on the future of intra-European payments, 15 December 1949. [EN]
Document 4. Memorandum presented by Belgium on the European Payments Union, 8 March 1950. [FR]
Introduction to document 5.
Note 51. Telegram Henri Bonnet (French ambassador, Washington) to Affaires Etrangères, 13 September 1949. [FR]
Note 52. Protocol German cabinet meeting, 12 December 1950. [DE]
Note 53. Note Affaires Etrangères to Jean Filippi (Ministère des Finances), 16 May 1950. [FR]
Note 54. Document de travail, établi par la délégation française, 24 June 1950. [FR]
Note 55. Letter Dirk Stikker to Willem Drees, 16 June 1950. [NL]
Note 56. Minutes Council for Economic Affairs (Netherlands Cabinet), 1 July 1950. [NL]
Note 58. Memorandum on Economic Union with Belgium and Luxembourg, 27 December 1951. [NL]
Introduction to documents 6, 7 and 8.
Document 6. Declaration by the Netherlands Delegation to the Economic Commission of the Conference for the European Political Community (Rome) concerning the relation between the common market and the coordination of monetary politics, 26 September 1953. [FR]
Addendum: Minutes of the third session of the Economic Commission, held Friday 25 September 1953. [FR]
Note 64. Aide mémoire de la Délégation Allemande sur les mesures à prendre pour réaliser le marché commun, 26 September 1953. [FR]
Document 7. Modifications proposed by the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs on the articles of the projected statute of the European Political Community regarding economic powers, 30 October 1953. [FR]
Document 8. Interim report of the Economic Commission to the Executive Committee of the Commission for the European Political Community, 22 January 1954. [FR]
Document 9. Attachment to the letter of the Netherlands Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Joseph Luns and Jan Willem Beyen) on the report of the Commission on the Common Market, 31 October 1955. [NL]
Addendum: The Study Conference in Brussels, 14 October 1955. [NL]
Document 10. French memorandum concerning the institution of a monetary committee, 15 October 1956. [FR]
Document 12. Speech by the Chairman of the European Commission (Walter Hallstein) to the constitutive session of the Monetary Committee, 3 June 1958. [FR]
Document 13. First report on the activities of the Monetary Committee of the EEC, 28 February 1959. [FR]
Introduction to document 15.
Note 80. Internal memorandum E.H. van der Beugel, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 20 June 1956. [NL]
Document 15. Communication of the Netherlands on the Action Programme of the European Commission, 25 April 1963. [NL]
Note 84. Netherlands Parliamentary Proceedings, Second Chamber, 1962-1963, addendum 6900, chapter V, no. 11. [NL]
Document 16. Report by the Netherlands Ministry of Finance on the proposals of the European Commission to strengthen monetary and financial cooperation within the EEC, 7 August 1963. [NL]
Document 17. Netherlands memorandum on the monetary aspects of the agricultural proposals, 17 February 1964. [NL]
Document 18. Netherlands interdepartmental note on the agricultural accounting unit, 15 June 1967. [NL]
Introduction to documents 19 and 20.
Document 19. Memorandum by the European Commission on the policy to be pursued in the Community to tackle the current economic and monetary problems, 5 December 1968. [FR]
Document 20. Memorandum by the European Commission to the Council on the coordination of economic policies and monetary cooperation within the Community, (Barre Memorandum), 12 February 1969. [EN] [FR] [DE]
Introduction to documents 21, 22 and 23.
Document 21. Note by the Netherlands Ministry of Finance concerning the memorandum of the European Commission on the coordination of economic policies and monetary cooperation in the Community, 25 June 1969. [NL]
Document 23. Position paper by the Netherlands Ministry of Finance on the medium term EEC-support mechanism according to the Barre Plan, 15 January 1970. [NL]
Note 110. Eleventh Report on the Activities of the Monetary Committee, Brussels, 15 May 1969. [EN]
Introduction to documents 24 and 25.
Document 24. Report of the 34th meeting of the Ministers of Finance of the European Communities in Paris, 23 and 24 February 1970. [NL]
Note 120. Un plan de solidarité monétaire européenne en trois étapes 1971-1977 (Snoy Plan), 27 January 1970. [FR]
Note 123. L’Europe en route vers l’union monétaire (Luxembourg Plan), 23 february 1970. [FR]
Document 25. Position paper by the Netherlands on the procedure for the development of a plan for an economic and monetary union, 26 February 1970. [NL]
Introduction to document 26.
Note 129. Un plan de solidarité monétaire européenne en trois étapes 1971-1977 (Snoy Plan), 27 January 1970. [FR]
Note 131. L’Europe en route vers l’union monétaire (Luxembourg Plan), 23 february 1970. [FR]
Introduction to document 27.
Document 27. Note by the President of the Short-Term Economic Policy Committee of the EEC (Gerard Brouwers) to the Werner Group on the method for the realization of an Economic and monetary union, 3 April 1970. [FR]
Introduction to document 28.
Document 28. Report of the Treasurer of the Netherlands Ministry of Finance (Willem Drees Junior) on the conversations with Belgium and Luxembourg on monetary union in the EEC, 7 April 1970. [NL]
Introduction to document 29.
Document 29. Letter by the Belgian Minister of Finance (Jean-Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers) to the Netherlands Minister of Finance (Johan Witteveen), 15 May 1970. [FR]
Note 159. Pierre Werner, ‘Perspectives de la politique financière et monétaire européenne, 26 January 1968. [FR]
Introduction to document 31.
Document 31. Letter by Jean Monnet to the Luxembourg Prime Minister and Minister
of Finance (Pierre Werner), 26 May 1970. [FR]
Introduction to document 32.
Document 32. Letter by the Luxembourg Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (Pierre Werner) to the Chairman of the Committee of Governors of Central Banks (Hubert Ansiaux), 12 June 1970. [FR]
Note 174. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Introduction to document 33.
Note 175. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Introduction to document 34.
Document 34. Report by the Werner Group to the Council and the Commission on the realization by stages of economic and monetary union in the Community, 8 October 1970. [NL] [EN] [FR] [DE]
Note 183. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Introduction to document 35.
Note 187. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Introduction to document 36.
Document 36. Letter by Jacques Rueff to the Luxembourg Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (Pierre Werner), 28 October 1970. [FR]
Introduction to document 37.
Document 37. Proposal by the European Commission for a Council decision on strengthening coordination of the Member States’ short-term economic policies, 30 October 1970. [EN] [FR] [DE]
Introduction to document 38.
Note 195. Minutes of the Netherlands Cabinet Meeting, 5 June 1970. [NL]
Note 200. Commission memorandum and proposals to the Council on the establishment by stages of economic and monetary union, 30 October 1970. [EN]
Document 38. Memorandum to the Netherlands Minister and State Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Joseph Luns and Hans de Koster) on the monetary union, 5 November 1970. [NL]
Note 204. Conclusions of the Netherlands Interdepartmental Coordination Committee on European Integration and Association Issues, 17 November 1970. [NL]
Introduction to document 39.
Note 205. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Document 39. Reaction of the British Foreign Office to the Werner Plan, 9 November 1970. [EN]
Introduction to document 40.
Note 220. Conclusions of the Netherlands Interdepartmental Coordination Committee on European Integration and Association Issues, 17 November 1970. [NL]
Note 221. Note of the Netherlands Ministry of Finance, ‘The move towards an economic and monetary union in the EEC’, 11 November 1970. [NL]
Note 224 and document 40. Report of the 131st meeting of the Council of the European Communities, 23 November 1970. [NL]
Introduction to document 41.
Document 41. Note by the Luxembourg Embassy in Bonn concerning the Franco-German position on the economic and monetary union, 27 January 1971. [FR]
Document 42. Letter by the German Chancellor (Willy Brandt) to the Luxembourg Prime Minister (Pierre Werner), 1 February 1971. [DE]
Introduction to document 43.
Note 244. Letter Posthumus Meyjes to the members of the Netherlands Coordination Committee for European Integration and Association Issues, 1 February 1971. [NL]
Note 245. Minutes of the Netherlands Cabinet Meeting, 5 February 1971. [NL]
Document 43. Conclusions of the Netherlands Interdepartmental Coordination Committee on European Integration and Association Issues regarding economic and monetary union, 3 February 1971. [NL]
Note 248. Letter Posthumus Meyjes to the members of the Netherlands Coordination Committee for European Integration and Association Issues, 1 February 1971. [NL]
Note 249. Report of the 136th Meeting of the Council of the European Communities, 14 December 1970. [NL]
Note 250. Minutes of the Netherlands Cabinet Meeting, 5 February 1971. [NL]
Introduction to document 44.
Note 254. Code Message Minister Luns to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 February 1971. [NL]
Introduction to document 45.
Note 260. Commission memorandum and proposals to the Council on the establishment by stages of economic and monetary union, 30 October 1970. [EN]
Note 261. ‘Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union – “Werner Report”’, 20 May 1970. See also note 162. [EN]
Document 45. Resolution of the Council of the European Communities and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the achievement by stages of economic and monetary union, 22 March 1971. [NL] [EN] [FR] [DE]
Note 268. Resolution of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on the application of the Resolution of 22 March 1971 on the attainment by stages of economic and monetary union in the Community, 21 March 1972. [NL] [EN] [FR] [DE]
Terwijl Nederland in 1949 nog bezig was met de afwikkeling van de dekolonisatie van Indonesië, maakte het tegelijk een bescheiden begin met wat later ‘ontwikkelingssamenwerking’ is gaan heten. De regering besloot op 3 oktober 1949 1,5 miljoen gulden beschikbaar te stellen voor hulpprogramma’s van de Verenigde Naties. Het hulpbudget maakte in de loop der jaren een expansieve groei door. In veertig jaar tijd groeide de middelen uit tot ruim 5,5 miljard gulden in 1989. Nog eens twintig jaar later was dit bedrag verdubbeld tot bijna 4,9 miljard euro (10,8 miljard gulden).
De vorming en uitvoering van het hulpbeleid werd mogelijk gemaakt door een groot aantal mensen op ministeries en bij door de overheid gesubsidieerde particuliere hulporganisaties en gespecialiseerde bedrijven en instellingen. Hoeveel dit er precies waren, is moeilijk vast te stellen. Minister Herfkens schreef in haar voorwoord bij de bundel die in 1999 verscheen ter gelegenheid van de viering van vijftig jaar Nederlandse ontwikkelingssamenwerking, dat zo’n 3400 ambtenaren op het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken en op de posten betrokken waren bij de besteding van het hulpbudget.
Het Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis (ING) heeft in opdracht van het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken een reeks bronnenpublicaties over de Nederlandse ontwikkelingssamenwerking samengesteld die betrekking hebben op de periode 1949-1989. Onderdeel van de opdracht was tevens het houden van interviews met personen die mede gestalte hebben gegeven aan het ontwikkelingsbeleid. De bedoeling was dat deze zouden worden gepubliceerd in een publieksboek, analoog aan de in 2001 door het ING uitgegeven interviewbundel Voor Nederland en Europa. Politici en ambtenaren over het Nederlandse Europabeleid en de Europese integratie, 1945-1975 (Amsterdam 2001).
Voor deze bundel is gesproken met zestien mensen die verschillende posities hebben bekleed, hetzij als minister, (plaatsvervangend) directeur-generaal, chef van een directie, beleidsambtenaar, ambassadeur c.q. ambassademedewerker in een ontwikkelingsland of als directeur van een medefinancieringsorganisatie. Berend-Jan Udink, Jan Pronk en Eegje Schoo gaven als minister voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking in de jaren zestig, zeventig en tachtig gestalte aan het ontwikkelingsbeleid. Lodewijk van Gorkom en Rob van Schaik dienden onder de twee laatsgenoemde ministers als directeur-generaal Internationale Samenwerking. Beiden waren tevens lange tijd werkzaam als ambassadeur in ontwikkelingslanden. Wil Erath was als ambassademedewerker werkzaam in twee voormalige Nederlandse koloniën: Indonesië en Suriname. Voorts spraken we met vier plaatsvervangende DG’s te weten, Hans Jonkman, Frans Peters, Ferdinand van Dam en Jos van Gennip. Voor Van Gennip en Jone Bos, die in 1980 chef van de Directie Particuliere Particuliere Activiteiten, Onderwijs- en Onderzoekprogramma’s (DPO) werd, geldt bovendien dat zij voor hun overstap naar het ministerie directeur waren van respectievelijk Cebemo en ICCO. Ook komt één van de pioniers van het ontwikkelingsbeleid aan het woord, namelijk Connie Patijn. Godert Posthumus was betrokken bij het herstel van de ontwikkelingsrelatie met Indonesië in 1967 en maakte in 1977 een overstap naar het ministerie van Financiën. Ten slotte spraken we met drie beleidsambtenaren, te weten Ben van Eldik, Leo van Maare en Jan Petit.
Lees meer in het [PDF] van dit artikel.
M.G.M. Smits en L.J. van Damme, ‘Het Nederlandse ontwikkelingsbeleid, 1949-1989’, in: L.J. van Damme en M.G.M. Smits (red.), Voor de ontwikkeling van de Derde Wereld. Politici en ambtenaren over de Nederlandse ontwikkelingssamenwerking, 1949-1989 (Amsterdam: Boom, 2009), pp. 7-26.
In 1949, when still busy winding-up the decolonisation of Indonesia, the Netherlands made a modest start with development cooperation. On 3 October the govemment decided to donate 1.5 million guilders (68o.ooo euro) for aidprogrammes of the United Nations. Over the next 6o years the growth of the Dutch aidbudget would be spectacular. In 1989, the last year we have documented in our official records of the history of Dutch development policy, the budget had grown to 2,5 billion euro. In the twenty years that followed 1989, the budget again doubled to almost 4·9 billion euro.
The making and carrying out of the aid policy was the effort of several govemment departments, subsidized private aid organisations, and specialized companies and institutions. How many people were involved exactly is hard to determine. Ten years ago, the minister for development cooperation Eveline Herfkens wrote in her preface to the jubilee book, Fifty Years of Dutch Development Cooperation that 3.400 civil servants at the Ministry and in the embassies were involved in rnanaging the aid budget.
Lees de [PDF] van dit artikel.
‘Main Topics of Dutch Development Policy, 1949-1989′ in; Marc Dierikx (ed.), Diplomacy and Development. Proceedings of the 10th International Congress of Editors of Diplomatic Documents (Den Haag: ING, 2010), pp. 49-56.
The making of Dutch foreign policy through writing comments on policy papers.
Ever since the start of the Iraq War in 2003 the decision making process concerning the political support the Dutch government gave to the unilateral British-American intervention, which finally led to the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, was contested. Representatives of the opposition in Dutch parliament – members of left wing parties – urged about 14 times for an inquiry on the reason why this support was given. Until january 2009 Dutch government refused to agree with this inquiry. Especially prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende blocked every proposal in this direction and even went so far that the Labour Party, which was part of his government since 2007, had to accept that an inquiry on the Dutch support to the Iraq war was out of the question.
Crucial for the end of Balkenendes resistance was the leak of a policy paper of the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was published on Saturday 17 january 2009 in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Members of several political parties, including the liberals who until then had supported the Iraq policy of former Dutch governments, raised new questions. To avoid a – probably inevitable – public inquiry by the Dutch parliament, prime minister Balkenende decided to install an independent inquiry committee, which published its report in January 2010.
In the policy paper written on 29 april 2003 the legal advisers of the ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, that the legal fundaments of the position of the Dutch were inadequate. According to the minister’s advisors the Netherlands even could lose a legal procedure before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The paper never reached the minister. In a margin note written on the policy paper, secretary-general of the ministry Frank Majoor wrote: ‘Store properly in the archives for posterity, the discussion is now closed for this moment’. The legal adviser replied in his margin note: ‘The audite et alteram partem (listen to the other side) does not apply here apparently’. Not that the legal advisers had warned for the inadequate legal basis of the Iraqi invasion was news, but the fact that the cabinet and the top of the Foreign ministry ignored warnings of their legal advisors was news. The margin note of the secretary-general of the ministry eventually made pressure in favour of an inquiry on the political support of the Iraq war too high to oppose any longer.
Would the decision making process been different if minister De Hoop Scheffer have had the opportunity to read this policy paper? In an interview to the inquiry committee, former secretary-general Majoor stated that is was not necessary to send this policy paper of eight pages to the minister, because the Iraq war was already formally ended and because it was mostly old news. The minister was already aware of the debate on the legal implications of the decisions that had been taken. De Hoop Scheffer answered to the committee that he was fully aware of the vision of his legal advisers.
The margin note of secretary-general Majoor had the intention to give the policy paper a safe resting place, but – because it was leaked – turned out to be explosive. Normally, margin notes throw light on the decision making process within the civil service. You can read comments or instructions of senior officials to the minister. Researchers of diplomatic history or international relations explore the archives of Foreign ministries in order to reconstruct the decision making process. Documents from different stages in this process throw light on the role of individual civil servants and on the personal point of view of the minister. When making a meticulous reconstruction of the genesis of foreign policy it is important to understand which civil servant or minister is hiding behind an initial: who has read the policy paper and who wrote comments in the margins. Analysing these comments requires decoding different qualities (legible as well as illegible) of handwritings, but also detecting the author of the comments.
Although the practice of writing margin notes has been widespread within the civil service inside and outside the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs developed a sophisticated system of taking down these margin notes, with rules and procedures , including the use of different colored papers, colored pencils and initials. This system was introduced in 1950 together with an important reorganisation of the ministry. The core of the system was the use of abbreviations which denote the diverse sections of the ministry. One character stands for the top of the ministry: ‘M’ means the minister of Foreign Affairs, ‘T’ means the secretary of state, engaged with European affairs, ‘R’ means the secretary of state or minister for Development Cooperation, and ‘S’ is the secretary-general. Directors-general on the ministry as well as advisers use four characters, such as DGES, which means Director-General for European Cooperation. Directories and sections use three character codes, such as DWS, which means Directory of Western Cooperation. Finally, bureaux and units use two characters in combination with the directory code (like DWS/IE, which means Bureau Integration Europe of DWS). As a rule, a civil servant, who writes a policy paper in name of his unit, won’t use his name but his unit code. Crucial to identify the author behind a unit code are the initials written on the document.
Crucial to identify a policy document is also the colour of the paper on which the advice or remarks were written. Ministers and secretaries of state wrote their observations on a blue paper, the secretary-general did use red or pink paper, a director-general brown or orange paper and the heads, deputy heads of the directory and their unit heads green paper. Other civil servants of the ministry did use yellow paper. When you’re doing research in the archives of the ministry, you often find carbon copies of photo copies of policy papers. In such a case only the character codes give an indication of the author and the recipients of the paper.
The administrative instructions which the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs used in the 1950’s also contained instructions on the color of the pencils which had to be used to write down the initials and margin notes on the policy papers. The colors used were similar to the colors of the papers, except that civil servants, who had to write on yellow papers, were considered to use black pencils. The system of initialling and commenting policy papers functioned very well in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the 1970’s ballpoints and markers replaced pencils as writing materials. At the same time, the instructions on the use of colored pencils fell into disuse. The only means of identifying the author of a policy paper or a margin note left were the initials and the handwriting.
In general, civil servants write policy papers directed to their seniors or the political leadership of the department. At the top you can see who has read the paper. If a head of a direction sends a policy paper to the minister, it is customary that his director-general and then the secretary-general will read the paper first. After putting their initial on the paper, they will forward it to a higher level. Once the minister has read the paper, it will descend to the author, together with remarks and instructions written in the margins.
Besides writing comments and instructions in the margins, ministers and civil servants could also use memo sheets to write down their remarks. Since the introduction of the yellow sticky notes of Post-it in 1981, it became common to put these notes on documents and to remove them after use. In many cases these notes stay glued on the documents until the moment that they lose their adhesive character and the relation between the note and the document is broken. At that moment the additional information on the yellow notes looses its context and it becomes difficult to find out on which document the note was related. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs had its own green sticky notes. They were attached to documents with staples or paperclips.
Until five years ago, I did research on Dutch development policy between 1950 and 1989. At that time, the ministry archives for the period between 1945 and 1990 were still in the cellars of the ministry. We scrutinized files within their original folders. The relation between memo sheets and the documents was clear and we could use the information on these sheets to annotate the published documents. Nowadays, most of these archives are transferred to the National Archives of the Netherlands. They are put in new archive boxes and the documents are deprived of their staples and paperclips. The effect is that the green memo sheets are deprived of their context and have become orphans. If you want to find out which memo sheet was formally related to which document, you have to compare the holes of the removed staple or the place and form of the removed paperclip.
Anyway, memo sheets can contain useful additional information. On this sheet was written: ‘This is a good, constructive story, cooperative in nature. All negotiating partners apparently can unite on this. Bravo!’ Another sheet I’ve found in the archives of Foreign Affairs, contains a negative judgement: ‘I have held this. I find it no strong story, while it is as little as clear what our ambassador should do. Furthermore, I’ve understood that also France does not wish that the five Congo basin countries should have to give preferences. The whole seems “pointless” to me.’ Again, beautiful observations, but without value, because we don’t know the context.
To demonstrate the value of margin notes written on Dutch policy papers, I want to focus on the early years of the European integration. In 1952, the independent Jan Willem Beyen became the new Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs. During his four years mandate as a minister he made an important contribution to the establishment of the European Economic Community (EEC). In December 1952 he presented his Beyen plan to the other five ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). He proposed to establish a customs union without internal tariff barriers. In his view, the proposed European Community not only had to include the ECSC and the European Defence Community which was in preparation, but also economic integration. In his view economic integration was conditional to political integration. Unfortunately, with the French refusal to ratify the EDC-treaty in august 1954, all the integration plans – including the Beyen plan – seemed to be out of sight.
Only after the resignation of the French prime minister Pierre Mendès France in February 1955, the supporters of further European unification, got new hope. The general opinion was that the most realistic way was to extend the supranational powers of the ECSC to the energy and transport sector. Even the president of the High Authority of the ECSC, Jean Monnet, was in favour of extending the ‘vertical’ integration to other economic sectors. Those who believed it was possible to realize ‘horizontal’ economic integration took the line that some form of intergovernmental cooperation was the best, or at least the most realistic goal to be aimed at. Beyen took another line. In his view it would be possible to realise a customs union as a first step towards an economic union. He proposed to take a joint Benelux initiative to realise a common market.
Not only outside the Netherlands but also within the Netherlands Beyen had to overcome scepticism, not only from other ministers in the Dutch government, but also within his own ministry. According to most of his advisors the policy of Beyen was too ambitious. It is clear that he had written his paper to the council of ministers of 24 March 1955 himself without using preliminary drafts of civil servants. The result was that his advisors could only react after the discussion in the council. In a memorandum of 5 April director-general Ernst van der Beugel denounced the new Beyen plan as unrealistic. He stated that a custom union administered by a supranational organ would not be acceptable for the other ECSC-countries, especially France. Van der Beugel feared that the Beyen proposals could be used to create a supranational organisation without any real power. Therefore it would be more realistic to join the supporters of the extension of the powers of the ECSC.
Only the head of Western Cooperation Section of the Foreign Ministry Theo Bot fully supported minister Beyen. In this memorandum of 7 April Bot stated that only in the context of a integrated community of interest the national antagonisms could be eliminated, which could give to Europe a real political and economic basis. The margin notes on this paper demonstrate that his senior official, director-general political affairs Henry Eschauzier disagreed with this view. Bots statement that only the creation of a common market could improve or at least retain the standard of living of the European population was ‘much tocategorically’. Eschauzier also doubted if it was urgent for political and economic reasons to use the favorable climate of the moment to investigate again the goals and means of European integration.
On 12 April Van der Beugel wrote a new memorandum in which he again stated that a Conference of the six ECSC-countries on general economic integration was too premature. He warned for establishing a new supranational authority without consensus on a common program. Why should we risk, when it’s possible to forward the Europe of the six through expanding the activities of the ECSC. Beyen responded in his margin note: ‘What are we actually doing? That we meet too much or too little supranationalistic enthousiasm?’ In his concluding remark he stated: ‘It’s much more than methodic. It’s indeed a fundamental change of view.’ Although Beyen was convinced of the necessity of putting the economic integration back on the agenda, this did not exclude the possibility of expanding the competences of the ECSC.
The margin notes on both policy papers illustrate disagreements concerning the Dutch foreign policy on European integration. The vision of minister Beyen became part of the Benelux initiative, which was a compromise between the sectoral approach of Jean Monnet and the Belgian minister of Foreign Affairs Paul-Henri Spaak and the general economic approach of Beyen. The conference of foreign ministers, held in Messina (Italy), on 1 and 2 june 1955, led to the establishment a committee which had to prepare proposals for relaunching European integration. Spaak became the chairman of this committee.
From the start of the European integration, Dutch policy was to persuade the United Kingdom to take part in the integration process. In 1950 the British had decided not to participate in the negotiations on the Coal and Steel Community because of the proposed supranational character of the ECSC and because of their fear for protectionism under French leadership. After Messina Beyen contacted the British again asking them to participate in new talks on European unity. The British government agreed to send a observer to the Spaak Committee. In july 1955 – the talks within the committee were just started – Beyen proposed to held a conference of the foreign ministers of the six in The Hague on 6 september 1955. Beyen’s intention was that the British should also participate in the conference. In a memorandum of 26 july secretary general of the Dutch Foreign Ministry John Tuyll van Serooskerken wrote to Beyen that Spaak agreed to invite the British but doubted if they would accept an invitation. Spaak assumed that Beyen would inform the Germans, French, Italians and Luxembourgers about inviting the British. In his margin note, written in blue, Beyen wrote: ‘We could now inform the other governments through diplomatic channels. If the others agree, than one should first inform unofficial (via Paul Mason) [the British ambassador in The Hague] whether the British are inclined to participate.’ Tuyll answered in red: ‘I’m inclined to do this in London.’
A week later, the deputy head of the Western Cooperation Section, Johan de Ranitz, informed Beyen on the proceedings of the Spaak Committee and the preparations of the proposed ministers conference. The head of the section Theo Bot reported from Brussels that the Germans wanted to postpone the conference for a week, because of lack of preparation time. Tuyll wrote in the margin that he and the director-general political affairs had the opinion that there was not yet reason to postpone the conference. ‘If the Germans find delay necessary, than the German government has to do a formal proposal’. De Ranitz made two additional remarks with a grey pencil. First that M (minister Beyen) agreed to go ‘on record’ against the British and second, that is was out of the question that the final report [of the Spaak Committee] could be ready on 1 october. ‘Besides, we won’t appreciate this.’ After returning from Brussels Bot wrote above the policy paper: ‘very much urgent’.
In many occasions you can read that a minister or a higher official agrees with the content of a policy paper. You often can find remarks like ‘Acc.’ (akkoord=agreed) of ‘Cfm.’ (conform=accordance) in the margins. Sometimes you can read that the writer of a marginalia disagees with the content. As an example, on this memorandum someone has written: ‘an equally solid as worthless paper’. On another paper throws light on disagreement concerning the Dutch position within the Spaak Committee. Where Bot was concerned about an isolated position of the Netherlands on using safeguard clauses to payments difficulties after the realisation of the common market, Van der Beugel disagreed: ‘Nonsense. Why we may never be on our own?’
In other occasions a margin note throws light on the reception of reports and letters. One of the Dutch negotiators on the EEC-treaty was Hans Linthorst Homan. Homan was a warm advocate of a federal Europe and was affiliated with the European Movement. On behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs he was member of the Dutch delegation in the Spaak Committee and leader of the Dutch delegation during the Brussels negotiations in 1956 which have led to the Rome Treaties. His reports often reflected his federalist approach on European integration. This approach was not very popular in The Hague. Often he had to take positions which he himself disagreed. The result was that is influence was little. ‘Everone liked him, but did not listen to him’, as another Dutch negotiator typified him. After reading a report of Homan of 11 October 1955 on the proceedings of the Spaak Committee, Beyen commented: ‘I can’t keep up this morbid twinges of conscience’. Illustrative was also the reception of a report, which Homan had sent to The Hague on 26 july 1955. Van der Beugel typified the content as interesting, but he mentioned that Homan’s report was written late in the night. In addition he wrote that the original report did not contain whiskey spots. Beyen commented: ‘The whiskey bottle was empty at the moment the typing of the report started.’
Most margin notes are too concise to throw a light on the opinions of the author of the notes. This was not the case with prime minister Willem Drees, who we nowadays would typify as ‘eurosceptic’. In the archives of the Dutch Council of Ministers and the Ministry of General Affairs I found several short policy documents of his principal advisor Cees Fock. Drees wrote detailed comments on Fock’s policy papers, like this one. Drees margins throw a bright light on his eurosceptic points of view and are in my opinion indispensable for writing his biography.
Let’s draw some conclusions. Before interpreting margin notes it’s important to understand something of the administrative rules within a ministry. You have to know the unit codes, identify the persons behind these codes and behind their initials. Then it’s important to know what color of paper is on which a minister or civil servant wrote his advise and what color of pencil he used. An important manual for identifying ministers and officials are guides and almanacs. Making a digital list of officials of a ministry could be very useful.
Investigating margin notes can throw new light on foreign policy because they give new insight in the reception of diplomatic documents. Important is to know if a minister agrees or disagrees on issues laid down in these documents. Sometimes, as I have shown, margin notes reflect an internal discussion within the ministry. If this is still the case in the new digitizing government, I don’t know. This will depend on new rules. Recent versions of word processors, like Microsoft Word, have the possibility to track text changes and writing comments in the margins. Crucial is whether these changes and comments will be saved, in particular in the pdf-versions of these documents, which will be placed in digital archives. Within some ministries rules of signing letters (and problably also commenting documents) are still vivid. Recently I saw on TV the transfer from the old minister to the new minister on the ministry of Internal Affairs. At the end of the ceremony outgoing minister Liesbeth Spies gave a red pen to her successor Ronald Plasterk, because the rule on the ministry was that the minister had to to write with a red pen.
Voordracht gehouden op de 9e conferentie van de European Society for Textual Scholarship op vrijdag 23 november 2012 in het Trippenhuis te Amsterdam.