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Marshall Plan

Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program, project instituted at the Paris Economic Conference (July, 1947) to foster economic recovery in certain European countries after World War II. The Marshall Plan took form when U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall urged (June 5, 1947) that European countries decide on their economic needs so that material and financial aid from the United States could be integrated on a broad scale. In Apr., 1948, President Truman signed the act establishing the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) to administer the program.

The ECA was created to promote European production, to bolster European currency, and to facilitate international trade. Another object was the containment of growing Soviet influence (through national Communist parties), especially in Czechoslovakia, France, and Italy. Paul G. Hoffman was named (Apr., 1948) economic cooperation administrator, and in the same year the participating countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States) signed an accord establishing the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (later called the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) as the master coordinating agency.

The ECA functioned until 1951, when its activities were transferred to the Mutual Security Agency. Over $12 billion was dispersed (1948–51) under the program. From the start the Soviet Union strongly opposed the Marshall Plan while the various countries in Eastern Europe denounced or ignored it. Completed in 1952, the Marshall Plan was one aspect of the foreign aid program of the United States and greatly contributed to the economic recovery of Europe.

See S. E. Harris, ed., Foreign Economic Policy for the United States (1948, repr. 1968); H. B. Price, The Marshall Plan and Its Meaning (1955); J. B. DeLong and B. Eichengreen, The Marshall Plan (1991); G. Behrman, The Most Noble Adventure (2007).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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