The European Productivity Agency and Transatlantic Relations, 1953-1961

By Bent Boel | Go to book overview
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III. AN OPERATIONAL BRANCH
OF THE OEEC

Much of the EPA’s existence was plagued by discussions about what it actually was or ought to be. Some defined it as an operational branch of the OEEC, others chiefly saw it as an American aid agency, still others envi­ sioned it as a European federation of national productivity centers (NPCs), and some, finally, hoped that it could evolve into a tripartite organization. While not necessarily exclusive of each other, these four definitions do reflect different political ambitions, which will be discussed in the following four chapters. First of all, the EPA was created as an “operating arm”1 of the OEEC. However, discussions about the status of the EPA as an operational branch caused numerous conflicts among the member countries. These conflicts concerned the official role of the agency, its place within the OEEC, its working procedures and its administration.


A. An Operational Body

The fundamental raison d’être of the EPA was to be an operational branch of the OEEC with the purpose of enhancing productivity. Its aim was to change attitudes and practices through seminars, conferences, missions, pilot pro­ jects, etc.2 From the beginning, however, the member countries had very different views about how outgoing the new agency should be.3 That did not deter the EPA secretariat from launching an ambitious program, based on the belief that the agency “should above all initiate dramatic actions creating psychological jolts and addressing a large public by way of exhibitions, press

1 WNRC, RG 469, OEO, ROS, SF 1948-53, box 3, f. “Economics: Productivity Program (1 of 3),” repto 1444, Paris to London, 27.10. 1952. It was also labelled “executive arm” (MBZ, DGEM-Archief 66/PRA Algemeen deel 3, f. “1471,” 4.2. 1953, “Verslag van de vergadering van het PRA Committee op 25.1.-26.1. 1953) and “executive body” (MBZ, DGEM-Archief 66/PRA Algemeen deel 3, f. “1471,” note, de Milly to van der Beugel, 5.1. 1953).

2 WNRC, RG 469, OAEO, ROS, RRt EPA, 1953-1957, EPA: Advisory Board EPA: General, box 1, f. “EPA/General Through 1957,” EPA(57)11, 3.9. 1957, “Results Obtained and Future Prospects. Report on the Agency’s First Phase of Activity (1st May 1953 - 30th June 1957) and on its Situation at 1st July 1957.” A slightly modified version of this comprehensive report was subsequently published: OEEC, The European Productivity Agency. Activities and Achievements. A Summary of the Work Done by E.P.A. During Four Years of Operational Activities, Paris, 1958.

3 See Chapter I.

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