Ideas into Institutions — How the European Community Began
Many of those who witnessed the appalling slaughter and destruction of the First World War realised that only some form of unification of the states of Europe could prevent further conflict. The Great Powers’ struggle of the nineteenth century, the competition for empire and the arms race had culminated in a great cataclysm. Yet the nineteenth century had shown, in the case of the unification of Germany and Italy, that wars could be reduced by political and economic union. Further afield, the success of the American federal system, despite the supreme test of the Civil War, gave hope to the European democrat. The immediate aftermath of the First World War saw the creation of several new nation states and the resurrection of old states as the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed and the Baltic states achieved temporary independence. Many boundaries were redrawn or established and we know, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 contained the seeds of the Second World War. Perceptive critics of the time recognised that fact. The years 1919–39 can be regarded as an extended armistice.
KeywordsEuropean Economic Community Foreign Minister North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Political Unity Marshall Plan
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