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Account for the Origins of the EEC between 1945 and 1957

Account for the Origins of the EEC between 1945 and 1957

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Cian Rohan. Originally submitted for Arts at University College Cork, with lecturer Dr. Mervyn O'Driscoll in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Cian Rohan. Originally submitted for Arts at University College Cork, with lecturer Dr. Mervyn O'Driscoll in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Essay Title:
Account for the Origins of the EEC between 1945 and1957
Essay Word Count:
The devastation and destruction wrought during the Second World War was a pre-cursor to a newera in European history and governance. In the shadow of that devastation a clamour for Europeanintegration reverberated around Europe from above and below. This essay provides a linear look atthe processes and initiatives undertaken by European powers toward greater European integrationthat ultimately led to the creation of the European Economic Community.It was necessary first to analyse the key factors that dictated post-war policy in Europe and theseamounted to three elements; firstly the rebuilding of European economies; secondly the real threatof soviet expansionism from the east and thirdly the need to neutralise nationalist militant threat(which includes the question of how to approach the post-
war ‘German question’). These factorsalong with the experiences of the 1940s were uppermost in the minds of Europe’s politicians when
formulating opinion and policy. These factors and experiences were also uppermost in the minds of the common people and this study shows that particularly amongst those who operated during the
war as ‘Resistance’ there was a strong desire for a fully
-fledged federal Europe. Broadly amongst
Europe’s political
, decision-making elite federalism was secondary to functionalism and this essayhighlights the conflict between both philosophies and the frustrations that occurred when bothideals were unsatisfied by too little or too much.Institutions such as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Benelux CustomsUnion, the European Coal and Steel Community, NATO and the Western European Union could becategorised as qualified successes and the lessons learned, positive and negative are highlighted toshowcase their role in the founding of the EEC. Equally the unsuccessful institutions and indeeddefeats for early European integration in the guise of the European Defence Community and theEuropean Political Community showed how far the boundaries of integration could be pushed andwhat forms of institution would prove unworkable.When dealing with such a complex topic it was important to utilise the correct material and therewere certain pre-eminent historians in this field whose analysis it was essential to incorporate intothis essay. Since all history is written with the benefit of hindsight it was important to understandthe context and period of the information being provided. Where John McCormick was writingduring the current recession, Derek Urwin was writing during the disintegration of the Soviet Unionand Alan Milward was writing when Soviet Russia was at its zenith. It was important to take theseaspects of the analysis into consideration when presenting the events leading to the formation of the EEC.The question of European integration was as pertinent then as it is now. As European leaders seekto solve the financial crisis engulfing the European continent it is toward greater financial andpolitical integration that our elected leaders have looked. It has never been more important toanalyse this history so that it may inform our future.
During the course of this essay it will be looked at how various European institutions, conceivedpost-war to 1957, had an impact on the foundation of the EEC. It will be argued that the progressionand regression, success and failure of these institutions had an effect on the birth, make-up andsubsequent running of the EEC. These institutions highlighted to integrationists the elements thatwere unworkable and the aspects that were achievable.
Scholars agree that ‘’the EEC is today widely
considered the starting point for what has evolved into the European Union
; this essay will seek toanalyse how that process was developed between 1945 and 1957.Firstly the problems that were identified after the war must be looked at. These amounted toconcern regarding the rebuilding of economies, the need to deal with the threat of Sovietexpansionism from the east and also the need to sterilise potentially militant nationalist sentiment
The latter point also deals with the need to address the ‘German Question’ and the area of Franco
-German relations. European, indeed transatlantic leaders, identified that these threats must beopposed and defeated so as to allow for greater integration to occur post-war in Europe but alsothat these problems could be tackled whilst building this greater integration framework. If theseproblems were not surmounted then there would be no framework for European cooperation andno subsequent EEC.The first issue that the European powers in conjunction with the US
looked to address was the issueof rebuilding the economies of war-affected countries. America, naturally, took the lead on this issueand it was addressed even prior to the end of the war in July 1944 at Bretton Woods, NewHampshire. The culmination of these talks was the Bretton Woods system. The defining principles of this system were to avoid the financial failings of the last inter-
war period and implement a ‘’moresustainable international commercial and financial system’’
. Although it underestimated the cost of 
rebuilding Europe and Milward says ‘’if the Bretton Woods system...ever existed it ended for
European countries
in 1947’’
; others argue it was essential in laying down a road map for economicand European recovery
. It also cemented America’s place as
dominant power in the West. Thisis significant for the process of European integration as the US was a great proponent of this.After the qualified failure to reanimate European economies America undertook to provide moreaid.
This was beneficial to them as a strong Europe would provide a bulwark against Soviet Russiaand would also provide a wealthy market for US exports
. In 1947 the US Secretary of State GeorgeMarshall made a commitment that America would do whatever was necessary t
o aid Europe’s
economic revival; his speech on Commencement Day marked the beginning of Marshall Aid. Milward
argues it had only one condition, that the aid be used in a ‘co
ordinated way’
and its purpose ‘should
McCormick, John, (2011),
European Union Politics,
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) 80-81
Soviet Russia also attended a meeting in Paris with 16 other governments to give a list of needs to the US as
part of the US’s commitment to greater funding in Europe which came to be known as the Marshall Plan. They
left when they concluded that their aims were not compatible with American aims.
Milward, Alan S., (1984),
The Reconstruction of Western Europe 1945-51,
(London: Methuen and Co.)44
, 67
Between 1945 and 1947 the US had already provided more than $10billion in loans and aid to Europe.McCormick,
Politics, 67 

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