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The Marshall Plan and Comecon

This map is part of a series of 16 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations since 1945.

In June 1947, the US Secretary of State, George Marshall, launched a plan of financial aid for European countries as a key element in the struggle against communism. The objectives of the European Recovery Programme (or Marshall Plan) were both political and economic: to facilitate the reconstruction of, and political stability in, European countries, and thus ensure their presence in the market economy while simultaneously opening up new business opportunities for American companies.

The Marshall Plan was offered to all European countries, but the USSR refused and persuaded the countries under its influence to reject the plan. As a result, only 16 countries in Western Europe benefited from the US programme: Ireland, United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, West Germany, Italy, France,

Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, and Greece.

In order to manage these funds, they set up the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) and agreed to reduce their tariff barriers in order to facilitate the circulation of merchandise: a first step towards a rapprochement of European economies.

In response to the OEEC, the USSR and the socialist republics established a Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, or COMECON, in 1949. Even though COMECON was created to facilitate economic relations between its members, the USSR stood to gain the most benefits.