Discuss the key stages in the development of the EU since the Marshall Plan and outline the key issues facing the EU of 2000
The concept of ”Europe” has been around for centuries, but the European Union has only been in action for fifty years.
The first theories about the benefits European integration came about after the First World War, when Austro Hungarian Aristocrat Count Richard formed an organisation, Pan Europa, supporting the development of these ideas. It quickly gained an ardent following but was swept away in the Fascism of the 1930’s.
These theories were revived after another World disaster (WW2) in 1947. The priority for European leaders after the Second World War was to try to prevent Europeans from ever going to war with one another again. For most it seemed the major threats to European peace and security were nationalism and the nation state.
National pro European groups decided to organise a conference aimed at promoting ambitious ideas to develop the need for a “closer unity between all states.” The congress of Europe held in The Hague in 1948 resulted in the formation of the Council of Europe founded with the signing in London in 1949.
When America announced the Marshall plan, which was set up to aid European Economic Recovery, it prompted two French men who were already inspired by the idea of European Integration, Monnet and Schman to push the first step towards the unification of Europe. Together along with the agreement of the German Chancellor Konrad Adeneauer, they formed the Schman plan. This introduced the idea of “pooling” Franco-German Coal and Steel under the administration of a single joint authority, thus producing a common link between two mistrusting countries.
Other European countries were invited to join, but it was only the Benelux countries and Italy that expressed any real interest. However this experiment involving only six European states was a foundation on which the Union we know today was built upon.