The Transformation from the Six into the EU 27

Seminar Paper 2006 12 Pages

Economics - History


This article analyzes the history of European integration from the end of the Second World War until today. It focuses on the different enlargement steps and explains why the progressive enlargement of the European community can be understood as a mechanism with challenges and responses to internal and external developments. From this point of view the text has a closer view on the reasons why specific countries decided to surrender a part of its national sovereignty to a supranational institution within the last sixty years.


The first half of the 20th century was featured by two world wars and eco- nomic depression all over Europe. Totalitarian systems rose as a response to political confrontation and economic crisis like the Great Depression in the 1930s and currency instability. Many countries favoured nationalism and trade protectionism to overcome these problems and therefore isolation spread all over Europe. This development ended in the Second World War when millions of people had to pay the price for this process.

Therefore politicians decided to set up organizations facilitating interna- tional cooperation such as the Bretton Woods system or the United Nations to prevent a catastrophe like the Second World War once again. Especially American and British politicians thought about multilateral concepts among European countries as a key for peaceful coexistence when they faced the question of the reconstruction of Europe. These measures should enable eco- nomic growth, full employment and political stability. Thus the European Recovery Program (ERP) demanded participating countries for international cooperation and can be seen as the beginning of the long way towards Euro- pean Integration.

Die Europaeische Integration ist in der Geschichte unseres Kon- tinents ein beispielsloses Erfolgsprojekt: Frieden und Demokratie, Wohlstand und Solidaritaet sind Errungenschaften, die untrennbar verbunden sind mit unserem gemeinsamen europaeischen Weg1.

The European Coal and Steal Community

When Congress in Washington discussed about the reconstruction of Eu- rope, Morgenthau presented the concept of an agricultural state in Germany cheap loans and financial support in the framework of the ERP. This pro- gram should reduce the deficit in the trade balance between Europe and the US caused by the massive European imports of food and resources from the States. One essential element of the ERP was that European countries should work together within the Organisation for European Economic Coop- eration (OEEC)3 and the European Payments Union (EPU) to coordinate and manage the American aid.

As a consequence in particular France thought about how to control Ger- many and hold it down. Schuman presented a plan about how France could control coal and steel resources and production in Germany and at the same time enable growth in France. Since there was an acute shortage in coal after the Second World War France wanted to gain access to the German resources. He proposed the creation of a common market in coal and steel and pool sovereignty under a supranational authority4. The long- term aim of this institution was to gradually eliminate all tariffs in these heavy indus- tries. This was the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) on the 9 May 1950. Over the last sixty years it became obvious that these two countries had often formed the Franco- German engine at the heart of European Integration5.

Through the consolidation of basic production and the institution of a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and the other countries that join, this proposal represents the first concrete step towards a European federation, imperative for the preservation of peace6.

Germany and especially its chancellor Adenauer had always been in favour of European Integration and Franco- German reconciliation because they hoped to regain sovereignty on the international stage7. They hoped to become equal partners by attaching to the Western Camp. Moreover, they held the opinion that economic cooperation might solve the political ques- tion of the Saar and could end the rivalry with France. Nonetheless there were discussions going on in Germany because the political opposition feared that this could be the end for all kind of negotiations about reunification with Eastern Germany8. In fact the participation in the ECSC meant that Germany left the path of political neutrality and national unity. The Benelux countries (The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) had a strong interest in political stability and peace across Europe and therefore joined the Community, too. Italy realized that this step could be a possibility of achieving political and economic integration. The British gouvernment opposed the plan which implied a loss of sovereignty and weakening relations with the Commonwealth countries. They proposed an intergouvernmental approach and were supported by the Scandinavian countries9. The United States of America mainly welcomed this kind of regional integration because they saw the need for a strong Western bloc especially after the Korea War had started in 1950. Furthermore, they stressed the necessity for military cooperation among Western European countries and demanded for the creation of a military pact. In 1949 the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was a first step towards the military cooperation to ’“keep the Germans down, the Americans in and the Russians out“.

The creation of the OEEC and the EPU as well as the existence of the ECSC increased trade within Europe by abolishing trade barriers and implementing lower tariffs10. The increasing spill- over effects in this regional market imposed the question if it was possible to enlarge the number of goods traded within the community.

The Treaty of Rome and the European Economic Community

In the following years there were different attempts to enlarge the process of integration among the Six to military and political issues. Both, the Eu- ropean Defense Community (EDC) and the European Political Community (EPC) failed.

At the Messina Conference in 1954 the Monnet and Spaak report proposed that it was possible to increase technological growth across the community of the Six11. The integration of Germany into the framework of European integration had increased trade between the member countries and thus they wanted to expand the market for further products. Moreover, they saw the possibility of locking Germany in a commercial unit. At 25 March 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the EUROATOM.

Germany was in favour of these plans especially because it was a further step back on the international stage. Since this was one of the main objectives of the Adenauer administration they welcomed this deepening of European Integration. Additionally, Germany saw the chance to get access to the markets of some neighboring countries to increase its exports. Nevertheless this objective was not shared completely by its minister of economy Erhard who opposed this concept of a „’small Europe“. He held the opinion that the costums union should be more liberal and open to enlargement including further countries and full convertibility of European currencies to enable trade.

France realized that this supranational organization was a tool to control Germany and furthermore it profited from the growing markets. In particular after the trauma of decolonization and the devolution of the French Colonial Empire (Tunisia, Algeria and Vietnam became independent after wars in the 1950s) they wanted to strengthen their political position within Europe12. To satisfy French interests the treaty harmonized social working conditions and contained an association agreement between the Six and French colonies. Italy was from the geopolitical point of view a little bit away from the part- ners but realized that participation in a growing market would enable the domestic economy to grow and thereby favour modernization of its economy. To achieve access to the steadily growing German market they asked for a free circulation of workers and capital.

Another question was the inclusion of Great Britain into the framework of European Integration. Their foreign policy and especially their trade pol- icy was still based on the following two pillars: Strong cooperation with the Commonwealth States (former British Empire) and the United States. Furthermore, they had always been a little bit reluctant towards European Integration and first wanted to observe how this union develops and above all, if it really worked. Last but not least the process of Integration had always been a question about handing over political power and sovereignty to a supranational institution.

2. Nevertheless the ERP and the Marshall Plan were a decision to recon- struct Europe and treat Germany as a trade partner by putting it into an international framework. Germany was included into the plan to strengthen economic development that was necessary for European recovery. This de- cision was also based on geopolitical considerations because it was a strong economic and political argument to contain communism at the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.


1 Schroeder, Gerhard; Gross, Stanislaw; Zapatero, Jose- Luis Rodríguez: Fuer ein starkes Europa, in: Frankfurter Rundschau 27.11.2004

2 Germany always refers to the Federal Republic of Germany

3 The OEEC was transformed to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1960

4 Molle, Willem: The Economics of European Integration, Aldershot 2001, page 60 ff

5 The Economist still names its columns about European Integration Charlemagne

6 Declaration of 9 May 1950, French foreign minister Robert Schuman

7 Buehrer, Werner: Die Adenauer aera. Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1949 bis 1963, Muenchen 1993 page 131

8 Sontheimer, Kurt: Die Adenauer aera. Grundlegung der Bundesrepublik, Muenchen 1991, page 192 ff

9 McDonalds, Frank and Dearden, Stephan: European Economic Integration, London 1999 page 9

10 Treaty about the foundation of the European Coal and Steal Community, Article 4

11 Communique of the Messina conference

12 Story, Jonathan and de Carmoy, Guy: The major countries and Europe in The new Europe, Massachusetts, 1993, page 187


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Institution / College
University of Pompeu Fabra
European Integration European Union European Community



Title: The Transformation from the Six into the EU 27