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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Europe’s Monetary (Dis)union

Europe's Progress Toward Economic Integration

The European Council building in Brussels June 18, 2008. Yves Herman / Reuters

IN 1949 Paul Hoffman said to the Council of the O.E.E.C.: "The people and the Congress of the United States, and, I am sure, a great majority of the people of Europe have instinctively felt that economic integration is essential if there is to be an end to Europe's recurring economic crises." He was certainly right in stressing the "instinctive" source of the conclusion, for this put the matter in the realm of feeling, implying an unreasoned background and the absence of any strict definition. The various discussions of economic integration show a common agreement as to the general direction in which Europe should go but also provide an uncommon confusion of terminology (coöperation, coördination, integration, unification) and wide disagreement as to who is to go on which route, how far, and to what specific goal.

"Europe" did not become an important proper noun in American economic foreign policy until General Marshall on June 5, 1947, suggested that United States assistance would no longer be given on a piecemeal basis but rather in relation to a joint program, "agreed to by a number, if not all European nations." When the Marshall Plan was enacted, the preamble to the Act included these words: "Mindful of the advantages which the United States has enjoyed through the existence of a large domestic market with no internal trade barriers," it shall be the policy to encourage "that economic coöperation in Europe which is essential for lasting peace and prosperity." This certainly was a comfortably vague statement.

The position of the European countries was equally unimpeachable and general. And the early reports of the Economic Coöperation Administration are full of phrases such as "maximum benefit for Europe as a whole," "total economic effort of the European nations" and "total European economy." The European Recovery Program therefore focused attention on Europe as such, but there is no evidence that it was to be more than a joint program and coöperative venture.

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