The European Productivity Agency and Transatlantic Relations, 1953-1961

By Bent Boel | Go to book overview

II. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE EPA,
1953-61

Reluctantly accepted by some as a temporary experiment, ambitiously viewed by others as the embryo of a comprehensive European productivity policy­ making body, the EPA suffered from its very birth from the problems which such an ambiguous identity inevitably produced. It was never allowed to take its own existence or working methods for granted, and its history is to a large extent the story of continuous battles for survival. Its congenital afflictions were responsible for its stormy, uncertain and brief existence.


A. A Chaotic Start (1953-54)

The EPA was born with a handicap. As an American official said in 1954: “There is no ready-made market for EPA. It must be sold.”1 Few OEEC countries sincerely wished to “draw up and promote a European Productivity Programme” as proclaimed by the EPA’s constitution. In fact, their main preoccupation was to secure as large a chunk of the EPA’s funds for themselves as possible.2 Since the US funding would inevitably decline during the following years and since the EPA had only been granted a three­ year lease of life, it was from the very start confronted with an urgent need to market itself, by making the EPA known and if possible useful to the member countries.3

The first necessary step in this direction was to get the newborn organization going. This proved easier to decree than to do. The EPA was created by the Council of the ministers of the OEEC on March 24, and officially came into existence on May 1, 1953. This decision remained mere theory though, since the agency had no director or staff of its own. There was a general agreement that the director should play a central role and that it was therefore crucial to make the right choice for this post.4 The Americans wanted to give the

1 WNRC, RG 469, DDO, OEO, OD, SF 1948-54, box 48, f. “Productivity (EPA),” ltr., Watson to Francis, 25.2. 1954.

2 Handelsministeriet (HM), j.nr. 88-5-56, note, no. 3255, Hoelgaard, 19.12. 1955, “EPA’s hidtidige virksomhed og fremtidsmuligheder.”

3 MBZ, DGEM-Archief 663/EPA Algemeen, f. “1477,” note, no. 136391, van Blokland to Kruisheer, 29.10. 1954, att.: note by King, 27.10. 1954, “Future Operation of the European Productivity Agency.”

4 NLRA, 2.06.061, Inv.nr. 587, note (MBZ), no. 74405, 21.5. 1953, “Het Europese

-61-

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The European Productivity Agency and Transatlantic Relations, 1953-1961
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in 20th & 21St Century European History 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Table of Contents 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Introduction 9
  • I- American Technical Assistance to Western Europe, 1948-53 21
  • II- A Short History of the Epa, 1953-61 61
  • III- An Operational Branch of the Oeec 93
  • IV- An American Aid Agency 115
  • V- A European Federator 135
  • Vi- Epa- A Tripartite Organization?1 149
  • VII- The EPA and Management Education1 185
  • VIII- The EPA and Development Aid- The Pilot Area in Sardinia 199
  • IX- Impact of the Epa's Activities 221
  • Conclusion 249
  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms 253
  • Bibliography 261
  • Appendices 284
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