European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan (1947–51), the project of economic reconstruction of Europe promoted by the United States after World War II. The program is credited with rebuilding western Europe's war-shattered economy, bringing about increased unity among its nations, and helping to prevent the spread of Communism.
When the war ended in 1945 much of Europe had been devastated. The economies of most countries had been disrupted, and there was widespread political instability. Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed in 1947 that the United States would give financial support for several years if European countries agreed upon a joint program to rebuild the means of production, promote international trade, and adjust to postwar conditions. Western European countries accepted the offer, but the Soviet Union and its satellites rejected it.
In July, 1947, a joint plan for economic reconstruction was drawn up by 16 countries, which agreed to reduce barriers to trade. The countries were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
The United States Congress in 1948 created the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) to supervise the operation of the Marshall Plan. The 16 countries set up the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) to distribute United States aid and to coordinate the recovery program. West Germany and Spain later joined the OEEC, and Yugoslavia was given limited membership.
The United States provided some $13,000,000,000 for the European Recovery Program. ECA went out of existence in 1951; OEEC continued until it was succeeded in 1961 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).