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European Idea - Essay Example

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The end of the Second World War had left Europe completely devastated and exhausted. No country on the continental Europe was left in a shape to recover on its own. The biggest industrial power house of Germany lay in ruins, the vast farm lands of Eastern Europe were left behind the iron curtain…
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Download file to see previous pages United States had financed the European war effort through the lend lease agreement in which 50.1 billion US Dollars (almost 700 billion dollars at 2007 prices) worth of materiel was dispatched. However at the end of the Second World War, Europe was in no position to repay the mammoth debt. Also the tremendous rise in industrial effort in United States had led to a high level of production capacity whose only possible buyers could be the European states. Thus it was in American vested interests as well to finance the reconstruction of Europe through various instruments available, one of which was the European Recovery Plan or the Marshall Plan. But to American thinkers, the biggest hindrance to the reconstruction of Europe was the traditional strict protectionist trade structure of Europe. American thinkers rightly believed that quick recovery of European Continent could only be possible by the creation of a United Europe on the lines of United States where all the resources available are synergized to achieve a faster reconstruction and growth.
However this could not just be credited to United States as the promoter of European Idea as the entire continent was tired of the countless wars and long standing antagonism in the continent. Movements had started all over Europe for integration of Europe into one federal state or state like structure. However the Europeans wanted to stay away from American sphere of influence as well as the iron curtain of Europe and maintain a third European Pole. But the cold war ensured that this non alignment would be increasingly difficult to maintain and the Europe as on the border of expanding Soviet sphere of influence have to choose United States as its reliable partner and accept the American model of governance.
The Marshall Plan was the first step in practically forcing the European idea into the real world. As per Marshall Plan, United States agreed to fund the reconstruction effort in post war Europe only on the condition that if the Europe act together and present a mutually agreed reconstruction plan. Indirectly United States dictated the European states to learn to negotiate towards a common European recovery goal rather than the narrow self interest they had hitherto been following. This had a remarkable effect on the integration of future Europe. The Marshall Plan itself and the institutional mechanism established to implement it became the training grounds for the bureaucrats who later on worked in institutional integration of Europe. The success of the plan demonstrated to all and sundry in Europe, the benefits of economic integration. The free trade and non protectionist environment generated due to Marshall Plan ensured continuous two decades of excellent Economic Growth. Thus Marshall Plan stands as one towering example of United States's influence in shaping up the European Idea into a practical reality.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) became another fundamental effort by United States to shape up European thought into mutual coexistence in political and defence domains. What Marshal Plan achieved in economic domain was achieved by NATO in political / military domains. Though it can be argued that Marshal Plan started the economic integration process which culminated into one European Economy, while nothing of this sort is visible in military / political ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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