Committee for European Economic Co-operation16 July 1947 (Paris [France]) - 16 April 1948 (Paris [France])
Comité de coopération économique européenne
The Committee for European Economic Co-operation should not be confused with the Conference for European Economic Co-operation. Despite the similarity of the titles and the fact that they co-existed between almost the same dates, their constitutional natures were quite distinct.;
The Conference was a meeting at more or less ministerial level, whose members were empowered to make decisions on behalf of their countries. It met at the Quai d'Orsay (French Foreign Ministry) and, while technically in existence between 12 July 1947 and 16 April 1948, adjourned for long periods. It existed physically that is, all its members together, for probably no more than three weeks in total.;
The Committee, on the other hand, was created by a resolution of the Conference, as H.T. Adam pointed out "il n'avait qu'une existence interne, sans personnalité internationale propre .le Comité n'etait habilité à prendre décision extérieurement valable .Un simple organe intéerieur, le Comité ne pouvait prendre aucune décision valable sur la plan inter-étatique .par son statut, par sa nature juridique, le Comité de Coopéeation une commission de la Conférence". 1. Its first meeting was addressed by MM. Bidault and Bevin, but they then withdrew, and the chair was taken by Sir Oliver Franks. The national delegates were not those who had been present at the Conference, and although the Committee's first meeting was held at the Quai d'Orsay, the second and subsequent meetings took place in the Grand Palais. From the outset, therefore, its constitution, status and personnel were seperate from those of the Conference.
It is possible that the Committee of Co-operation itself may not have met after September 1947, but the Technical Committees created at the same time certainly did. It seems likely that the Secretariat also continued to function. Although it was, and was intended to be, "Une organisation spéciale et temporaire", it had a much more consistent physical existence than the Conference.;
The Confernce for European Economic Co-operation was convened jointly by Britain and France in response to Secretary of State George Marshall's speech at Harvard on 5 June 1947. In this speech, Marshall had offered American aid for the reconstruction of Europe provided that the various European countries would themselves initiate a coherent programme to do so.
On 27 June 1947 Georges Bidault (French Foreign Minister) and Ernest Bevin (Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the UK) met Vyacheslav Molotov (Foreign Minister of the USSR) in Paris to discuss a common response to the American initiative. It soon became apparent that this would not be possible. For political and economic reasons the Soviet Union refused to commit itself to the Marshall Plan, and on 2 July Molotov left Paris.;
The British and French governments decided to press ahead nevertheless. On 3 July they issued a joint communiqué setting out their decision to give effect to the Secretary of State's proposal, whether or not the Soviet Union was prepared to joint them.;
The Conference reconvened for another meeting n 22 September 1947. Its main purpose was to consider the General Report presented by the Rapporteur-Général of the Committee. The Committee for European Economic Co-operation is explained below. Note that although this meeting seems to have taken several days, there is no documentation on it in the group of records currently held by the OECD Archives Section. The Paris Conference adjourned at the end of September.;
The American Government did not give its final response to the Report until several months later. Having received it, the Conference met again on 15 March 1948. At this session members appointed a Working Party headed by M. Hervé Alphand, instructing it to draft the Constitution of a permanent organisation. Several members of the Committee for Co-operation - now apparently designated the Alternate Group - were also appointed as a temporary Drafting Committee, to draft the Working Party's terms of reference. A second meeting took place on 16 March before the Conference adjourned on 17 March.;
The Conference met for the last time, again with Bevin presiding , on 16 April. On this date the Convention on European Economic Co-operation was signed by all participating countries and the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation held its first meeting.;