Balancing between the COMECON and the EEC: Hungarian elite debates on European integration during the long 1970s

by Pál Germuska

Cold War History (2019)

Abstract: This article intends to uncover the internal disputes about foreign and trade policy between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, and to highlight the Hungarian motives in both Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) internal discussions and Hungary’s talks with the European Economic Community (EEC). The issue of concluding an agreement with the EEC became a home-front battlefield between the ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’ of the political leadership at the turn of the 1970s. The article argues that from the early 1980s, the genuine initiator of a foreign trade policy shift was the reform wing of the party, while the foreign trade apparatus remained firm on its standpoint of non-recognition.

DOI: 10.1080/14682745.2018.1544972
You can access the full article also in the EUI Repository CADMUS.



Before Strauß : the East German struggle to avoid bankruptcy during the debt crisis revisited

by Maximilian Graf

The international history review (2019)

Abstract: Due to costly ‘consumer socialism’ and continuous trade deficits with the West, the East German balance of payments crisis was aggravated towards the end of the 1970s. Declining Soviet support, the tense international situation, rising interest rates and the financial turbulences of other Socialist states (Poland, Romania) made the situation even worse. Facing a Western ‘credit boycott’, in spring 1982 bankruptcy seemed unavoidable to many of the GDR’s economic experts. However, after the adoption of several emergency measures, solvency was secured in the short-run and finally the loans negotiated by Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauß in 1983/84 released the GDR from the acute debt crisis. This article revisits the East German struggle to avoid bankruptcy prior to the ‘Strauß loans’. It sheds new light on the regime’s reactions to the ‘credit boycott’ and examines the strategies pursued to secure solvency. Oil and other trade operations with the USSR and certain Western countries created the necessary financial leeway. Since the resulting short-term liquidity came at high costs, the search for new loans continued. Finally, the so-called ‘Zurich model’ and its failure is a good case in point to illustrate the GDR’s aim of surviving the debt crisis without making any major concessions in return.

DOI: 10.1080/07075332.2019.1641542
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Die DDR und die EWG 1957-1990

by Maximilian Graf

Revue d’Allemagne et des pays de langue allemande (2019)

Abstract: The article deals with the relations between the GDR and the EEC from 1957 to 1990. After a problem-oriented introduction to the German-German and European framework of this relationship, it focusses on its political and economic dimension. In doing so, the analysis shows that – despite the special status resulting from the provisions of intra-German trade – the GDR was no less affected by the progress of deepening West European integration than the other COMECON member states. Nevertheless, following Moscow’s line, East Berlin refused to officially recognize the EEC. Only in the mid-1980s contacts intensified and relations were established in 1988. Despite the fact, that the developing European Community had – at least formally – always supported the West German goal of reunification, ironically, the GDR leadership hoped for support by Brussels in its struggle for the survival of its state.

DOI: 10.4000/allemagne.1352
You can access the full article also in the EUI Repository CADMUS (embargoed until July 2020).


Winner of the Saki Ruth Dockrill Memorial Prize ‘The Unity of Europe is inevitable’: Poland and the European Economic Community in the 1970s

by Aleksandra Komornicka

Abstract:This article explores the effects of Western European integration on socialist Poland in the 1970s. It argues that the existence of the European Economic Community (EEC) and its actions in that period helped weaken the Polish regime by accelerating its engagement with the West and provoking conflicts, at the national level between different groups within the socialist elite, and at the international level between members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA).

DOI: 10.1080/14682745.2020.1757651
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Squeezed between external trade barriers and internal economic problems: Bulgaria’s trade with Denmark in the 1970s

by Elitza Stanoeva

European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire (2019)

Abstract: This paper investigates Bulgaria’s trade strategy towards the European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1970s: a decade of intensified economic exchange between East and West thanks to détente and, simultaneously, of growing trade barriers due to the consolidation of the EEC’s Common Market. The successes and failures of Bulgaria’s endeavours are discussed through a study of economic cooperation with Denmark before and after its accession to the EEC in 1973. The main argument is that while Bulgarian economic policy focused on the rising regulatory impediments to trade with EEC members, it neglected the structural deficiencies of Bulgarian export production. Thereby, Bulgarian state officials strove to resolve foreign trade problems through diplomatic negotiations over customs regulations instead of advancing domestic economic reforms . This argument is supported by analysis of intergovernmental economic negotiations and trade deals between Bulgaria and Denmark during the 1970s. It highlights the different ways in which Bulgarian trade envoys in Copenhagen and top officials at home evaluated recurrent problems in accessing the Danish market and formulated solutions for these problems. Thus, instead of tackling internal structural problems, the blueprints for Bulgaria’s foreign trade focused on external foes, namely trade discrimination against socialist countries.

DOI: 10.1080/13507486.2019.1663796
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Lizenz- und Gestattungs produktion westdeutscher Unternehmen in der SSR und der DDR

by Pavel Szobi

Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook (2017)

Abstract:The article deals with economic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. Using the example of licensed production, its aim is to illustrate that in spite of ideological boundaries, business relations between West and East flourished in the period of the 1970s and 1980s. The author characterizes institutional conditions for this cooperation, names individual cooperation attempts, and uses the example of the well-known German brand Nivea as a symbol of the West and an example of a successful cooperation. The article reveals the intensive activities of West German companies and their investments in the GDR and Czechoslovakia long before 1989 and shows the potential of analyzing the German-German and the European transformation after 1989 more under the perspective of continuities and discontinuities.

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Yugoslavia, Italy, and European integration: was Osimo 1975 a Pyrrhic victory?

by Benedetto Zaccaria

Cold War History (2019)

Abstract: This work reappraises the international dimension of the Osimo Treaties which, in 1975, solved the border question between Italy and Yugoslavia and also shows the connection of such agreements to Yugoslavia’s attitude towards the process of Western European economic integration. This article argues that, on the Yugoslav side, the solution of the border problem was shaped by the peculiar economic interests of the northern republics – Slovenia and Croatia – which regarded the end of the border question as a means to foster cooperation with Italy and, at the same time, to obtain privileged access to the expanding Common Market.

DOI: 10.1080/14682745.2019.1657094
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Blowing up the self-management bubble : Yugoslav propaganda and Italian reception in the early 1970s

by Benedetto Zaccaria

Acta histriae (2019)

Abstract: Drawing on primary sources from the Archives of Yugoslavia and several Italian archival collections, this article shows that, in the early 1970s, faced with mounting internal problems, the Yugoslav leadership reappraised its self-management propaganda in order to convey the image of a reforming and modernising country. This was functional to the external projection of the country’s stability, and to favouring its relations withWestern European partners, Italy in primis. This article develops in three sections. First,it reappraises the historical development of Italian-Yugoslav relations after World War II,to highlight their political limitation and their link to Yugoslavia’s policy towards WesternEurope. Second, it shows how the internal crisis experienced by the Yugoslav federation in the early 1970s led to the rediscovery of self-management propaganda. Particular attention is paid to the organisation of the Second Congress of Yugoslav self-managers in Sarajevo (May 1971) and its clear-cut external dimension. Third, this paper discusses the instrumental dimension of the self-management discourse in Italy until the mid-1970s.

DOI: 10.19233/AH.2019.07
You can access the full article also in the EUI Repository CADMUS.