HIST 215 ESSAY

HIST 215 ESSAY - 1 Mata Kranakis 260276379 April 11, 2008...

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1 Mata Kranakis 260276379 April 11, 2008 Professor: Brian Cowan T.A.: Greg Bouchard The Creation of a People’s Europe: The Role of the Elites in the Development of the European Union
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2 European Integration was driven by a complex of interrelated problems that European nations faced in the aftermath of the Second World War. Political elites in Europe and in the United States sought increased social, economic, and political cooperation between nations both as a means to counteract the most damaging aspects of nationalism, and to enhance protection against the Soviet Union. They saw economic integration and the development of a more cooperative inter-European political system as the fastest and most effective way for Europe to recover from the ravages of war, strengthen individual states’ economies, promote reconciliation between France and Germany, and resist the spread of communism from the USSR. 1 These problems led European nations and their elites to begin a formal process of integration, building on more informal processes that had already been developing for several decades. European elites, such as Jean Monnet and Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi, had an increasing interest in a long-term supranational union for the people of Europe. The creation of a supranational union was seen as a means to create a cooperative political system that could tap the possibilities of technology and create a common market. 2 Largely, the European Union was able to develop because it offered solutions to the short-term problems created by the Second World War. However, European the elites realized that integration also offered long-term benefits for the people. Parallel to European promotion of increased integration, a strong economic union among Western European states was also promoted by the United States, who wanted to transform Western Europe into an attractive market for US exports and investment, and who wanted Europe to stand against communism. 3 Overall, European integration seemed to offer the most practical and beneficial solution to the problems facing Europe in the late1940s and early 1950s. 1 T.E. Vadney, The World Since 1945 3 rd ed. (England: Penguin, 1998) 108. 2 Desmond Dinan, Europe Recast: A History of European Union (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) 15. 3 J.-J. Servan-Schreiber, The American Challenge (New York: Atheneum, 1968) 6.
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3 With regard to the form of and procedures for European unification, ideas often diverged according to political and ideological affiliation. While some favored a federation led by a federal authority —a European government — others preferred a simple association of sovereign States. Nikolaus Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi was a member of the social elite who sought to influence political leaders and create a mass movement in favor of European integration. Coudenhove-Kalergi is recognized as the founder of the first popular movement for a united
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HIST 215 ESSAY - 1 Mata Kranakis 260276379 April 11, 2008...

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