The Marshall Plan

Although the idea of European integration was an ideal adopted by European intellectuals from the beginning of the

twentieth century, the success in the actual launching and development of the project is a achievement that must be

attributed to the policy and aid of the United States.

World War II left Europe in a state of complete crisis. More than 30 million lives were lost during the war, cities lay

in ruins, and as a result of violation of agricultural lands and people, food supply remained dangerously short. After

barely surviving the Nazi threat, Europe was now faced with the threat of Soviet communism and expansion. This

new threat divided the continent into pro-Western and pro-Soviet spheres, and some started to look towards

communism to save them from total destruction and to progress towards rebuilding and restructuring of the post-war


European states were trying desperately to mend the damages of the war without having to resort to communist or

socialist methods. However, the results lay short of expectations for capital was very limited and shortages of basic

resources such as coal and steel restrained production. In addition, in many European countries such as France and

Italy, the deterioration of the economy led to serious political problems, such as the undermining of the

governmental authority.

The only logical choice for Western European states, given that they did not desire to give in socialism or

communism, was to get together and cooperate towards recovery. However, the individual aims, plans, and

ambitions of major Western European states were keeping them from sacrificing or compromising towards such a

cooperation. This is where the United States became an active player.

Encouragement and provocation of European integration had been a constant characteristic of American foreign

policy in the post-World War II era. The contribution of the United States to the process of European integration

within this period, and its positive long-term effects should not be ignored or underestimated. This contribution has

manifested itself in many different contexts, such as economic aid and being a model for Europe in terms of

institutions and structure.

The first official sign of post-war commitment of the United States to Europe was the Truman Doctrine outlined by

US President Harry Truman in March 1947. The Truman Doctrine granted military aid to Greece and the Eastern

Mediterranean and it acted as the confirmation of the launching of better and stronger political relations between

Western Europe and the United States . The same year saw the shift in aid to the economic area. Observing the

constantly deteriorating state of European economy, the United States decided to provide Europe with financial

assistance. This decision was aimed at helping Europe recover, but had to do with the States' national interests as

well. Since Western European economies were lacking the financial means for developed trade with the United

States, the US was suffering from a huge export surplus caused by its booming economy. The recovery of European

economies and improved trade relations with Europe would mean a significant export outlet f!

or the United States .

With these considerations in mind, in June 1947, US Secretary of State George Marshall announced the Marshall

Plan, generally known as the European Recovery Programme. This was the biggest push from the United States for

European integration and provided the greatest help toward integration as well. The Marshall Plan stated that the

United States would provide funds for financial assistance if European states devised a cooperative and long-term

rebuilding program to recover from the effects of World War II.

The Marshall Plan was a success in that it called for those who would benefit from the program to be actively

involved in the planning and execution phases. Therefore, knowing that they had significant influence on the

outcomes of the program, the beneficiary European states were encouraged to cooperate to the greatest extent with

the United States.

Between 1948 and 1952, the US supplied $13.2 billion worth of grants and credits to European nations. These funds

played a key role in bringing a significant level of economic progress and stability to the benefiting 16 states of

Europe. By 1950, inflation was under control in many states and international as well as domestic trade had

recovered to impressive levels and by 1952, "Western Europe's aggregate gross national product [had] jumped by

more than 32 percent, from $120,000 million to $159,000