U.S. program to support nations in post-World War II Europe, also known as the Marshall Plan
The European Recovery Program (ERP) was a US-sponsored program designed to rehabilitate the economies of 17 western and southern European countries after World War II. The program was also known as the Marshall Plan, after Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who presented the plan at Harvard University on June 5, 1947.
Congress authorized the establishment of the European Recovery Program, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on April 3, 1948. The 13 billion dollar program ran for four years and included financial and material help, such as credit, raw materials, groceries and other goods for the countries that had joined the Organization of European Economic Cooperation (OEEC). Aid was initially offered to almost all European countries, but the Soviet Union withdrew from the program and was soon followed by the other Eastern European countries under its influence.
The ERP contributed to the economic recovery of Western Europe and played a crucial role in the beginning of the Cold War. Furthermore, it was one of the first elements of the European integration process, as new institutions were set up to regulate aspects of international trade. At the same time, American influence on Europe grew stronger than ever. Within the scope of the ERP, American ideas and methods were transmitted through technical assistance programs and other consulting services. It also led the way for numerous American companies to expand their business into Europe. Thus, United States increased its economic and cultural influence in Europe, a phenomenon which is commonly referred to “Americanization.”