The European Productivity Agency and Transatlantic Relations, 1953-1961

By Bent Boel | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The goal of the productivity program in Europe is nothing less than the reshaping
of the European economies from a static pattern characterised by restrictionism
into a pattern of dynamic and expanding free and competitive enterprise. This
alone will make possible continually rising living standards and ever-increasing
consumption of more and better things by more people. Behind this objective, of
course, and the ultimate justification, is the compelling need to keep the countries
of Europe willing and effective partners in the free world.1

It is sometimes said that no man is truly dead as long as his work lives on. The
EPA will now disappear from the list of international organisations, but its name
will live on in thousands of mouths all over Europe. “We started our collaboration
through meeting at the EPA conference.” “It was an EPA consultant who showed
us how to reorganise.” “We got our stud bull through the EPA.” “We work to
EPA standards here.” So very little money has been spent and so few people
employed that it is a wonder so much has been done. Now the torch of Productivi-
ty passes to the OECD.2


A. Aims

The European Productivity Agency (EPA) was a product of the Marshall Plan’s technical assistance program initiated in 1948. It was an American idea, created in March 1953 as a semi-autonomous organization within the framework of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC).3 Its purpose was to promote productivity in the member countries, and it was primarily financed by the United States. The EPA was a short­ lived experiment, since it was wound up after only eight years, when the

1 Washington National Records Center (WNRC), Record Group (RG) 469, United States Operating Missions (USOM), Mission to Austria, Productivity and Technical Assistance Division (PTAD), Subject Files (SF) 1952-58, box 4, folder (f.) “Briefing Materials,” memo, Hall to Russell, 23.9. 1954, “The FOA Productivity Program.”

2EPA Information Bulletin, Paris, September 1961, “Eight Years of Promoting Productivity.”

3 The EPA was an integral part of the OEEC, and all 17 OEEC countries were co­ founders of the EPA. The agency thus comprised Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The United States and Canada, which had been associated members of the OEEC since 1950, became associated members of the EPA from its initiation. Later on Yugoslavia (from 1957) and Spain (from 1958), also became associated with the agency (cf. OEEC, 9th Report. A Decade of Co-operation. Achievements and Perspectives).

-9-

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