What factors in the period 1945-57 stimulated the cause of European economic and political union?

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What factors in the period 1945-57 stimulated the cause of European economic and political union?


Following the brutality and suffering that had been unveiled upon the people of Europe during the first half of the twentieth century, it finally became clear that procedures had to be taken to prevent any such war in Europe from happening again. The Schuman Plan was launched on 9 May 1950 and the consequent European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was set up to bring Franco-German relations together through economic co-operation. The underlying agenda was based on political motives, disguised by economic opportunity. It was believed that another war between the two great European powers could be prevented if their relations were strengthened; through economic integration. Furthermore, by the controlling of German coal and steel it would be impossible to create a war economy anyway. The development of the Schuman Plan came about during the early cold war period, when there was still a very big Communist threat. By uniting Europe this threat would be greatly reduced. During the time taken to finalise these proposals “the most violent opposition came from the Communists, who had been against any form of West European orgainization ever since the USSR had rejected the Marshall Plan”. Another factor which influenced this proposal was that European countries insisted on using protectionist policies on their economies in the form of placing tariffs on imports. This did no favours for the European economy as a whole.  

Two World Wars were essentially caused by disputes between France and Germany, so naturally it became apparent that the relationship between these two great powers had to be strengthened. The Schuman plan was launched on 9 May 1950 by the French foreign Minister Robert Schuman, after the proposal by the French Planning Commissioner Jean Monnet. It called for the pooling of French and German coal and steel production. All countries in Europe were free to join, but only Italy and the Benelux countries Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg did so. The subsequent negotiations resulted in the signature of the Treaty of Paris in May 1951, which created the ECSC, Europe's first supranational community. The ECSC itself began operation in July 1952, and laid the foundations of yet further integration, not only between France and Germany but also between the other states of Europe. The significance of the date in the title, “1945-57”, is significant because the Schuman Plan becomes so successful that it led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957 by “the six”, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium, to form the European Economic Community (EEC).      

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A main feature of Schuman’s proposals in May 1950 was to promote Franco-German co-operation. The German coal and steel industry “needed to be integrated in order to prevent any sudden increase of German coal and steel output for rearmament purposes.” As coal and steel was a key sector of wartime economy it was thought that the ECSC would not only make war undesirable, but it would become a physical impossibility between the long-term enemies. Inevitably this would serve to strengthen the bond between the countries promoting their economies and harmonising them politically. It was to be the first step in a ...

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