Europe is witnessing a conflict that it has not seen since World War Two with the Russia-Ukraine war seeing no end in itself. With the country devastated, Europe as well as others have contemplated the idea of “Marshall Plan” for rebuilding the country.
Political leaders and Governments in Europe are for the “Marshal Plan”, just like the US funded rehabilitation plan for Western Europe that began not long after Adolf Hitler’s defeat.
At the just concluded World Economic Forum meet in Davos, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy borrowed words used to initiate the plan three-quarters of a century earlier for his own special address. Apart from him, German chancellor also called for the same plan. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development presdient also echoed the same.
WHAT IS MARSHAL PLAN?
The term “Marshall Plan” is refereed to any ambitious attempt at a multilateral rebuild. A World Bank official estimated that fully restoring Ukraine would cost at least the equivalent of $540 billion.
After Hitler’s defeat, President Truman on April 3, 1948, signed the Economic Recovery Act of 1948. This Act became known as the Marshall Plan, named for Secretary of State George Marshall, who in 1947 proposed that the United States provide economic assistance to restore the economic infrastructure of postwar Europe.
After the World War II ended in 1945, Europe was in ruins. The cities shattered, economies devastated, people faced famine. In the two years after the war, the Soviet Union’s control of Eastern Europe and the vulnerability of Western European countries to Soviet expansionism heightened the sense of crisis. In order to meet this emergency, Secretary of State George Marshall proposed in a speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, that European nations create a plan for their economic reconstruction and that the United States provide economic assistance.
On December 19, 1947, President Harry Truman sent Congress a message that followed Marshall’s ideas to provide economic aid to Europe. Congress overwhelmingly passed the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, and on April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the act that became known as the Marshall Plan.
Over the next four years, Congress appropriated $13.3 billion for European recovery. This aid provided much needed capital and materials that enabled Europeans to rebuild the continent’s economy.
For the United States, the Marshall Plan provided markets for American goods, created reliable trading partners, and supported the development of stable democratic governments in Western Europe. Congress’s approval of the Marshall Plan signaled an extension of the bipartisanship of World War II into the postwar years.