The twentieth-century integration of Europe was based on several fundamental factors, including universalism, a search for new forms of international order after the fall of the earlier established systems, and a wish to discover guarantees for national security. Contrary to universally held opinions, European integration did not start after the Second World War as a process intentionally and unselfishly initiated by governments and societies which had accepted a vision formulated by enlightened leaders. Actually, it was a combination of the national interests of particular European states, which together with an awareness of the threat posed by the communist system and the economic domination of the USA, that set this process into motion. An essential catalyst of changes aiming towards integration was the Marshall Plan, which enforced the cooperation of European countries- beneficiaries of American aid. For these reasons, the 1950s became a period of a considerable acceleration of the unification of Europe.
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