Central to the entire discipline of global politics after the Second World War, is the concept of European Integration. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Europe found itself in a state of economic devastation and with various problems to solve. Besides, the continent was soon to be divided into two major spheres of influence by the beginning of the Cold War. The Cold War was a constant state of political and military tension amongst powers in the Western Bloc (the United States) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies) (Judt, 2005, p.1). Soon after the beginning of the conflict, several treaties and institutions were established in order to create collaboration between Western European states.
The objective of this research is to examine at what extent the Cold War played a role in European Integration between 1945 and 1957. In order to explain its contribution I will observe the different events and aspects of the European Integration process which can be explained by the Cold War dynamics. The first section of this paper will examine the period after the Second World War, while the second section will focus on the early stages of European Integration and of the Cold War.
2. After the Second World War
One of the main aspects in the changing attitudes of powerful actors after the Second World War was the devastation and loss provoked by the conflict. Nationalism and the emergence of fascism were good examples of complications caused by an absence of cooperation amongst European states and many debated the option of a new European system of close cooperation (Judt, 2005, p.6). The several plans introduced contributed to the construction of what is now called the European Union.
Ideas of European unification flowed as the need of peace and cooperation was fundamental in preventing a future war, but plans made by Coudenhove, Briand or Monnet failed because states wanted to preserve their sovereignty. However, throughout time, the desire to create a prosperous continent that could compete with the two economic powers: the United States and the Soviet Union, and the desire to avoid confrontations between European states made the union possible.
The end of the Second World War did not lead to a return to normal but instead announced the rise of a new conflict, less bloody but secret and longer. The allied powers failed to agree on a peace settlement with Germany and so, it was subjected to a quadripartite occupation. (Judt, 2005)
Conflicts of interest between the new global powers are growing and an atmosphere of distrust and fear sets. It then follows a long period of global tension, punctuated by acute attacks sometimes leading to local military conflicts without yet triggering an open conflict between the United States and the USSR. The Cold War reached its first high point during the Berlin Blockade (Judt, 2005). Afterwards, the explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb in the summer of 1949,...