One word has appeared more regularly in the news and media than any other in recent months and years and this is the European Union or EU. Whether this is because of financial reasons such as in Greece within the debt crisis or political with David Cameron’s dispute with the EU of the Britain’s role within it, it has attracted both criticism and praise. The twenty-seven member union oversees co-operation among its members in many areas such as; trade, the environment, transport and employment. The modern EU is one of the final forms of integration that arrived after centuries of successes in bringing the states of Europe in a closer alliance. As suggested by the title of this blog (made famous by Winston Churchill) I would like to look briefly at the various motives behind European integration centring on the Post-War period.
The Second World War ended on Tuesday 8 May 1945 after six years of endless bloodshed and destruction. Europe had been devastated with bombing raids and death on an unprecedented scale. With the war in the Pacific coming to a close three months after VE day in Europe, the three major powers of Europe; USA, USSR and the UK met at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945 to discuss the future of Germany, post-war reconstruction and future peace in Europe. Ideas of an integrated Europe unified with a common economic and political agenda were also found in the early post-war period and were made increasingly popular by speeches by Winston Churchill.
The place of Germany within Europe had been one of the key factors in contributing to the ideas of European integration. There was a desire in incorporate Germany into a federate Europe to avoid further conflict between the European powers. Whilst Germany had been split into four zones following the Yalta conference, in the 1946 the ‘Iron Curtain’ had descended across Europe and had split Germany in half. What quickly arose were the two spheres of influence in Germany; the West (Britain and France) and America in the west and Soviet Russia in the east. This divide created new motives for European integration as many states in Europe, weakened by the war, were not strong enough to resist an attack from Russia should they invade. Therefore many states looked to Britain for leadership, as shown by Churchill’s evoking speeches in 1946, though Britain was more concerned with the Commonwealth than Europe.
With Europe devastated economically and even Britain seeking loans from America, integration was also one of the most important reasons for unity in Europe. ‘Integration of the European economy would promote large-scale, low-cost production that would lead to greater economic output and an improved competitive position in the world market’.  One of the earliest forms of economic improvement came from America in the form of the Marshall Plan in 1947. Seventeen nations joined this initiative and it became known as the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC). Whilst not all Europe joined, such as the states in Eastern Europe, this showed that economically the states of Europe needed each other to survive. To further ties, the Council of Europe was set up in 1949 to plan for further political integration. However the Commission of Ministers had no deliberate power and could only advise and offer recommendations to European states. This still represented the power that Europe could create should it act towards further unity across Europe.
To conclude the motives towards European integration are very important factors in which the EU is the modern result. I hope this blog had helped identify some of the motives behind European unity and integration in the post-war years.
 J. R. Weggs., Europe Since 1945 (New York, 1977), 151.
J. R. Weggs., Europe Since 1945 (New York, 1977).
D. W. Unwin., Europe since 1945 (London, 1972).
R. Vaughan., Twentieth Century Europe, Paths to Unity (London, 1979).
BBC History Website