This book has shown that the EPA’s history is worth telling for a number of reasons. The EPA was the first intergovernmental organization ever created to promote productivity in its member countries. It was also an important aspect of European cooperation in the 1950s since it embodied the high ambitions of some of its promoters and since its yearly budget represented on average forty percent of the OEEC’s total expenditures. Moreover, despite numerous shortcomings, the EPA achieved a good deal of success. Institutions were created which otherwise might not have been created, ideas and techniques were introduced which otherwise might only have been known in Europe at a later stage. In some countries and in some fields, the agency’s activities had a strong impact.
The history of the EPA sheds light on several important issues of Western European early postwar history. First of all, it was an aspect of US-European relations during the 1950s. Although it was not a central issue, it was a revealing one. The EPA was the result of the merging of two major US policies in postwar Western Europe: the productivity drive and the promo tion of European integration. It was an American success because the agency was created at US prompting despite considerable European reluctance. The latter accepted the idea out of regard for the US and for its economic aid. But, as the Americans well knew, there was no ready-made market for EPA, it had to be sold. In this respect one may speak about a success since the Americans actually did manage to “sell” the EPA to the Europeans and to convince many of them of its usefulness. When the EPA was finally wound up, the decision was made because of US pressure despite some European protests. However, the success should not be overstated. The EPA never played the leading role in a truly European productivity drive which the Americans had hoped for. This failure was mainly due to European resistance. But it was also caused by the fact that the EPA was never given high priority in Washington. The agency expressed “high politics” concerns but it acted in the sphere of “low politics.” While some of its promoters hoped that it would have high politics effects, this ambition was not widely shared among leading decision-makers. Therefore, the agency was never given the financial or political means to live up to its role of promoting a truly European productivity campaign, European integration and labor-manage ment cooperation.