The Marshall Plan

Lessons Learned for the 21st Century

image of The Marshall Plan

This book examines the historical, diplomatic, economic, and strategic aspects of the European Recovery Program (ERP) - popularly known as the Marshall Plan - which brought Europe out of the chaos, hunger, poverty, desperation, and ashes of World War II. In it, authors from a variety of countries who are scholars, policy makers, and business leaders,  address applications of the Marshall Plan’s lessons learned to the 21st century for capacity building, human and sustainable development, and the role of public, private partnerships in emerging market economies and democratic societies.

"There are not many of us left who served through the Marshall Plan from its beginning, and fewer still who served time in the Hotel Talleyrand in Paris, the site of the anniversary celebration, in June 2007, of Secretary George C. Marshall’s 1947 commencement address launching the European Recovery Program.  There are, though, scholars who can address those times and evaluate them so that the experience can live on.   

"The dedication of the Hotel de Talleyrand as a memorial to that unique enterprise provided the opportunity; and the analyses and evaluations in this splendid volume, The Marshall Plan: Lessons Learned for the 21st Century, reflect the excitement, as well as the accomplishments, of an economic enterprise that produced the infrastructure of NATO and the European Union.  Long live the spirit of Marshall’s vision!"

-Thomas C. Schelling, Marshall Plan alumnus, Washington, Copenhagen, Paris, Washington, ’48-‘53, Nobel Prize in Economics 2005


"A historical event is and remains crucial when it interacts with others in such a way as to contribute to a deep and positive change in the course of history. In this sense, the Marshall Plan made an outstanding and lasting contribution. It was instrumental to overcoming the temptation of isolationism in the US, to reviving our badly needed economic recovery and gave a decisive input to coordinating our national efforts, thus paving the way to our future European integration." 

When I think of the world as it would have been without the Marshall Plan, I am encouraged to conclude that even in our challenging times, another, better world is possible. This collection of well written contributions and analyses, The Marshall Plan: Lessons Learned for the 21st Century , further strengthens my convictions. 

-Giuliano Amato, Former Prime Minister, Italy

Former Vice President, European Constitutional Assembly




Part I. History, Diplomacy, Democracy and Development

The Marshall Plan, officially called European Recovery Program (ERP), was in place from April 1948 to September 1951. Most contemporary actors considered that it played an essential role in the economic successes of postwar Western Europe. The various European programs of modernization greatly benefited from the ERP, since it financed imports essential to reconstruction and modernization. It produced counterparts in European currencies, the allocation of which needs to be clarified, and generated a debate on their use. Moreover, the Marshall Plan was at the origin of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), created to encourage European unity. The Marshall Plan was a political tool in the hands of the American administration in the context of the Cold War and the defense of the West.


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