The European Productivity Agency and Transatlantic Relations, 1953-1961

By Bent Boel | Go to book overview
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A. The EPA’s Assistance to Areas in the Process of Economic

The EPA’s activities to assist underdeveloped areas in the member countries were only initiated in 1955-56. They were the result of a combination of external and internal pressures. Towards the middle of the 1950s it became clear that the process of decolonization had opened a new arena for the Cold War. Both the US and the Soviet Union were eager to acquire influence in the newly independent countries. In this context, US development aid was used in the hope of preventing third world countries from “going commu­ nist.”1 Such aid was seen as a countermeasure to the increased international activism of the Soviet Union and to the perceived combined threat from communism and nationalism in the third world. From the mid-fifties onwards, the US pressured its Western European allies to follow suit and increase their aid to third world countries. Endeavors to aid underdeveloped areas in Western Europe took place within this general reorientation of US policy. They aimed at achieving modernization and thereby social and political stability.2 But the Cold War and American pressure were not the only reason why the OEEC countries redefined their priorities. Other factors were horse-trading among the member countries and empire-building on the part of the OEEC/EPA. Early on, it had become obvious that the poorer member states, namely Greece, Portugal and Turkey, were also those which participated the least in the EPA’s projects.3 They were handicapped by

1 Kaufman, Trade and Aid, pp. 58-60. Robert E. Wood: From Marshall Plan to Debt Crisis. Foreign Aid and Development Choices in the World Economy, Berkeley, 1986, pp. 70-71.

2 ASCONF, box 18.1, f. “AEP. Programmi di attività dell’AEP. Interventi della Confederazione. Interventi del CIFE. Circolari, corrispondenza. appunti,” “Allocution de M. Grégoire à l’Assemblée générale du CIFE du 22.2. 1956.”

3 WNRC, RG 469, ODDTS, OPS, PAD, FEEB, RRt EPA 1954-60, box 1, f. “Europe. EPA Program FY 1959,” ecoto circ. A-5, USRO to ICA/W, 3.4. 1959, “Orientation of EPA FY60 Program to Benefit Member LDC;” UMA, 106.O.21, box 2, EC/ M(59)2, 10.4. 1959, “Summary of the Statement Made by Grégoire, Director of the EPA at the 249th Meeting of the Economic Committee Held on 6.3. 1959.” Italy’s situation was special, since the Northern region was well developed and participated actively in many EPA activities, whereas the Southern regions did not take part in any projects, see: Paolo Terni, “Elementi per una storia generale del ‘Progetto Sardegna’ (1957-1962),” unpublished report, Oristano, November-December 1962, p. 18.


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