Updated: 06-Nov-2001 1957

[ '45-'49 | '50-'59 | '60-'69 | '70-'79 | '80-'89 | '90-'99 | '00- ]
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The West 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).

In October 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.

The policy 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.

During the 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.


25 Mar

Signature of the Rome Treaties setting up Euratom and the European Economic Community.

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2-3 May

Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Bonn. The Council decides to intensify its efforts in favour of German reunification by means of free elections.

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  • NATO Ministerial Communiqués: Final Communiqué of the North Atlantic Council - Bonn
16 May

Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium) succeeds Lord Ismay as Secretary General of NATO.

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29 July

Signing in Berlin of a declaration by the governments of France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, affirming the identity of their policies with regard to the reunification of Germany and to European security.

14 Sept

The General Assembly of the United Nations condemns the Soviet intervention in Hungary.

4 Oct

The first Soviet Sputnik is launched.

31 Oct

Franco-British intervention in the Suez Canal area.

16-19 Dec

At a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Paris, Heads of Government reaffirm the principles and purposes of the Atlantic Alliance.

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