Kjell M. Torbiörn
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The new Europe takes shape

Following the second Berlin crisis and the ‘nuclear brinkmanship’ between the United States and the Soviet Union over Cuba in October 1962, the two superpowers took various steps to diffuse tensions while continuing their ideological struggle with undiminished intensity. The new European Economic Community (EEC) made major progress towards free trade and a common external customs barrier among its members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), even though its Common Agricultural Policy also led to clashes among them. The United Kingdom joined the EEC in 1973, and the nine-member EEC from this moment on became the main vehicle for West European economic and political integration. The beginnings of ‘big power détente’ over Europe permitted a country such as Hungary to engage in limited market-oriented reforms and, in 1968, led Czechoslovakia towards an open break, soon suppressed, with the Soviet Union. The 1975 Helsinki Final Act marked the beginning of the end of Soviet domination and of the Soviet Union itself.

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Destination Europe

The political and economic growth of a continent


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