European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?

European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?

European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?

European Integration, 1950-2003: Superstate or New Market Economy?

Synopsis

Integration is the most significant European historical development in the past fifty years, eclipsing in importance even the collapse of the USSR. This movement toward economic and political union has not only helped revive, transform and rejuvenate a battered civilization; it is opening the way to a promising future. Yet, until now, no satisfactory explanation is to be found in any single book as to why integration is significant, how it originated and has developed, how it has changed and continues to change Europe, and where it is headed. John Gillingham is a professor of history at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. His fields of research include European economic and cultural history as well as the history of international organizations. His book Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945-1955(Cambridge, 1991) was awarded the prestigious George Lewis Beer Prize by the American Historical Association. In addition to two edited volumes and approximately fifty published articles, Gillingham is the author of Industry and Politics in the Third Reich (Columbia, 1985) and Belgian Business in the Nazi New Order (Ghent, 1977). Gillingham has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and elsewhere.

Excerpt

“RE-LAUNCHING OF EUROPE” is the phrase coined to capture the spirit of the lengthy round of diplomacy that began at Messina, Sicily, on 1 June 1955. It opened less than a year after the EDC fiasco and concluded, after the initialing of the Treaty of Rome on 25 March 1957, with the establishment of the machinery for a future customs union – the European Economic Community, or Common Market – on 1 January 1958. The term “re-launching, ” or “re-launch” as it is sometimes translated from the French rélance, is no misnomer: The first ship to embark, with Schuman Plan on its prow, had gone aground and so a second one of improved design, the Messina, set out five years later, heading off in another direction – toward market liberalization. No one knew how to find the destination, whether the vessel in question would be sturdy enough to get there, or whether a still stouter tub, following a somewhat better tack, might arrive first. The fog of uncertainty would not soon lift. Europe was becoming liberal, more or less, but the course was not set. Doubt would remain the rule even after 1960, when a competitive yet cooperative European Free Trade Association (EFTA) came into being as a potential rival, co-partner, or merger candidate of the EEC. Outcomes would be determined by economic trends, the continuation of the boom under way; by high politics, the European states' relationships with each other and with the United States; and by the personalities and policies of officeholders in Washington, Paris, London, Bonn, and Brussels.

The impressive economic growth of the 1950s sustained both re-armament and the expansion of the welfare state, and by the end of the decade it was beginning to produce a modern consumer society in western Europe. It rested on a steady (though far from complete) deregulation of the industrial economies, the restoration of currency convertibility, and the reduction of tariff and nontariff barriers to trade. Growth within Europe depended upon the continuation of a “virtuous cycle” of trade in which expanding West German exports on world markets stimulated demand for the foodstuffs, raw materials, semifinished goods, and specialized manufactures of its neighbors, ECSC and non-ECSC alike. Open-market competition both from and within the Federal Republic exercised downward pressure on prices, kept inflation in check (except in France prior to 1958), and provided an early example of what Röpke termed “competitive emulation.” Two unknowns stood in the way of forming a customs area around a German nucleus. One was France; the other, Great Britain.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.