Why and in what ways did the states of Western Europe see closer relations with each other after the Second World War?

The following are the reasons for closer relations of western European states:

  • To rebuild their country from the destruction of war by cooperating and pooling their resources.
  • European states were too small economically and militarily as compared to superpowers like USA and USSR.
  • If countries worked together there will be less chance of outbreak of another war.
  • Strong western cooperation will stop or limit the spread of communism in Europe.
  • Cooperation between France and Germany was crucial. Germany had to wait for 8 years to join League of Nation and this time it was keen to join to show other states that it is more responsible. France was keen to join because it will be able to influence Germany’s policies and address security concerns.

Steps taken for closer relations:
The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC)
It was set up as a response to American aid under Marshall Plan. 16 European countries came together to make a plan for effective use of the aid.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
It was created in 1949. It consisted European nations along with USA and Canada. NATO, a mutual defence system to protect the member states from any attack.
The Council of Europe:
It was an organisation created for political unity. It was joined by 18 states including Britain, turkey, Netherlands, Malta, Cyprus except Spain and Portugal.
Benelux Customs Union 1947
Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg agreed to set up this union to remove any trade barriers and tariff among them.
Treaty of Brussels 1948
Britain and France entered Benelux Customs Union. This eventually resulted in formation of NATO.
The European Coal and Steel Community.
It was set up in 1951 to establish cooperation between West Germany with European Nations and Germany. Restriction and duties on the trade of Iron, coal and steel were removed.

  • EEC:

A common market was set up for Europe after the Treaty of Rome in 1967.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Why and in what ways did the states of Western Europe see closer relations with each other after the Second World War?

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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