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
economy.
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