Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5th in History

This Friday again I will direct your attention to a historical event related to the transatlantic relations that happened on the same date. On June 5th 1947, the United States Secretary of State George Marshall calls for economic aid to war-thorn Europe during a speech at Harvard University. We can conclude that 62 years ago on that the idea for the Marshal Plan was born or at least announced to the public by its creator.

The Marshall Plan (from its enactment, officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the primary plan of the United States for rebuilding and creating a stronger foundation for the countries of Western Europe, and repelling communism after World War II. The initiative was named for Secretary of State George Marshall and was largely the creation of State Department officials, especially William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan. George Marshall spoke of the administration's desire to help European recovery in his address at Harvard University on June 5th, 1947.

The reconstruction plan, developed at a meeting of the participating European states, was established on June 5, 1947. It offered the same aid to the USSR and its allies, but they did not accept it. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948. During that period some 13 billion US$ in economic and technical assistance were given to help the recovery of the European countries that had joined in the Organization for European Economic Co-operation.

By the time the plan had come to completion, the economy of every participant state, with the exception of Germany, had grown well past pre-war levels. Over the next two decades, many regions of Western Europe would enjoy unprecedented growth and prosperity. The Marshall Plan has also long been seen as one of the first elements of European integration, as it erased tariff trade barriers and set up institutions to coordinate the economy on a continental level.

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