Europe and the Western Hemisphere

  • William Woodruff


Out of the ashes of the Second World War — against all the direful predictions — arose a new and powerful Europe. Its remarkable recovery sprang from the challenge presented by the desperate postwar conditions, from the help given by the US under Marshall Aid and from the maintenance of a general peace. Nothing was more important than obtaining unity. The Benelux customs union formed in 1948, consisting of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, set the pattern for the free movement of people, goods, capital and services; it also introduced a common commercial policy. Two years later, as a result of the initiative of the French statesmen Robert Schumann (1886-1963) and Jean Monnet (1888-1979), there emerged the European Coal and Steel Community (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, West Germany, France and Italy). Britain, with its traditional mistrust of continental initiatives, refused to join. This was followed in 1957, under the Treaty of Rome, by the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Common Market. Again, Britain refused to take part. In 1959, this time as a result of British initiative, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was formed by Austria, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Finland and Iceland. In 1973 the EEC was enlarged to include Britain, Ireland and Denmark. Political integration was achieved with the establishment of the European Parliamentary Assembly.1 Assisted by the quickening of the world economy, European union ushered in a period of unparalleled economic growth and prosperity. By 1980, with a population of 250 million, with a productive capacity second to none, with slightly more than half the world’s trade, with monetary resources in excess of those held by the US and with the world’s largest merchant fleet, the EEC constituted one of the world’s largest economic blocs. In 1992 the European Community (EC) became the European Union (EU) (Map XXI). It seemed that Napoleon’s dream of 1812 might come true. The opening of the ‘single’ EU Market took place on 1 January 1993. The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), agreed upon at Maastricht in 1992, was still to be implemented in 1997.


European Union Nuclear Weapon Modern World Western Hemisphere German Democratic Republic 
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Copyright information

© Helga Woodruff 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Woodruff
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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