Why Did Western Europe Fail

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Western Europe had been devastated by World War II: shortages of fuel, food and industrial capital goods, a drastic drop in foreign trade and the threat of inflation meant the region was in a fragile economic and political position. In this context, increased political and economic cooperation were deemed necessary in order to reconstruct a Europe ravaged by war – which led to the creation of several international organisations (many of which are still operative today). “The US began to change its policy towards the USSR in 1946–47 as its perception of the USSR’s intentions and reliability as a post-war partner who would adhere to agreements was re-evaluated” (Dedman, 2010). The Marshall Plan (1947) was set in motion by the US in order to prevent…show more content…
Stalin’s death, the end of the Korean War, UK’s lukewarm support and France’s delays (as France was both occupied with decolonisation and was evermore begrudging towards German rearmament and towards having West Germany as an equal within the EDC) contributed to the EDC’s failure in August 1954. According to S.F. Goodman (1996), “the plan for a European Defence Community failed because the United Kingdom would not cooperate as a result of its commitment to the defence of its remaining empire.” Britain has often been criticized for not doing more for European unity and denying supranational authority to institutions such as the OEEC, the Council of Europe or the European Defence Community. “Bevin’s government was criticised for being anti-European; this was not the case – simply, his vision was more to foster intergovernmental cooperation more than integration via supranational bodies.” (Dedman,…show more content…
In line with the UK’s priorities, EFTA involved no loss of national sovereignty but it eventually became clear that EFTA was not beneficial to the UK economically, as it did not provide access to any large markets. In this period, Britain was also engaged in the decolonisation process and its international economic and political position was suffering considerable deterioration. Humiliation at Suez in 1956 confirmed that Britain was no longer a world power. ‘Britain had excluded itself from a dynamic Customs Union of 170 million’ and its access to the European market was impeded by the common external tariff. (Dedman, 2010) Moreover, the UK was in danger of becoming politically isolated. In the late 50s and early 60s, there was intense debate between pro- and anti-Common Market factions in UK politics (Goodman, 1996). When the former finally won out in light of EEC’s commercial success, Britain made its first formal application to join in 1961 but was blocked unilaterally by Charles de Gaulle in 1963. ‘He regarded Britain as America’s “Trojan Horse” in Europe (allowing greater US penetration of the Common Market)’ (Dedman, 2010). The Labour government applied to join the EEC again in 1967 and was once more rejected by de
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