European allies, continuing to build on the cooperation begun under
the European Recovery Programme, had set up the European Coal and
Steel Community in 1952. This process is taken significantly further
in March 1957 by the Treaty of Rome, signed by Belgium, the Federal
Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands,
which establishes the European Economic Community (EEC).
1957 another major event occurs but one which causes unease in the
West. In October, the Soviet Union announces the successful launch
of the world's first satellite, the Sputnik. While many marvel at
this technological development, others worry that Soviet superiority
in the field of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a version of
which had been used as the launch vehicle, might enable it to dominate
the West from outer space.
of peaceful coexistence, which Khrushchev had defined as 'the continuation
of the struggle between the two social systems but by peaceful means',
appeared to have led to some progress including the conclusion of
the Austrian State Treaty of 15 May 1955, which brought Four-Power
occupation of that country to an end. Other signs of hope are dashed.
At a Four-Power Summit in Geneva the following July, the Soviet
Union refuses any discussion of Eastern Europe, proposes a security
pact that would undermine the situation of the United States in
Europe, and insists that German unification can only be considered
when NATO and the Warsaw Pact have been dismantled.
latter half of 1957, the Soviet Union sends numerous letters to
member governments calling for a further Summit meeting, the suspension
of nuclear tests, the renunciation of the use of nuclear weapons,
the institution of a denuclearised zone in Europe, and the signing
of a non-aggression pact. These messages are widely seen in the
West as little more than an attempt to split the Alliance and, in
particular, to separate the Americans from Europe.
It is decided,
for the first time, that the Council should meet at the level of
Heads of Government in order to emphasise Allied unity. At this
Summit meeting, held in Paris in December 1957, the Council re-dedicates
itself to the principles and purposes of the Alliance, and reaffirms
the common position of its members regarding the maintenance of
peace and security.