the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Overview of U.S. Contributions to Peace and Security in Europe Since WWII

Europe is an indispensable partner with which the United States tackles key global security challenges, and advancing transatlantic peace and security has stood at the heart of U.S. foreign policy for more than a century.  The United States works hand-in-hand with our European allies and partners -- bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- to advance our shared goal of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.

As Europe emerged from the devastation of World War II, the United States implemented the Marshall Plan (officially called the European Recovery Program) in 1948 to provide $11 billion in economic support to rebuild European economies.  In April 1949, the United States joined 11 allies to create NATO.  NATO’s membership has since grown six times and now comprises 28 members.  NATO’s Article 5 guarantees the security of all NATO members, declaring that an attack on one of these allies will be considered as an attack on all.  U.S. contributions to NATO significantly enhance transatlantic stability and security, and since the end of the Cold War, the Alliance has transformed itself to meet the global security challenges of the 21st century.  NATO’s “Open Door” to new members has brought peace, stability, and security to Europe, contributing to the spread of democracy and prosperity across the continent.

The United States has also had a strong partnership with the European Union since the first U.S. observers went to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1953.  For decades, the United States and the EU have partnered together to promote peace and stability, sustain democracy and development around the world, respond to global challenges, contribute to the expansion of world trade and closer economic relations, and build bridges across the Atlantic.  The EU, which today includes 28 Member States and more than 500 million people, works to expand economic stability, prosperity, and security across Europe and beyond.  The United States and the EU are strengthening our economic ties through negotiations to form a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Deriving from the historic 1975 Helsinki Accords and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is the world’s largest and most comprehensive regional security organization -- with 57 participating states spanning from Vancouver to Vladivostok and 11 partner countries.  The OSCE is a political forum in which the United States works with other participating states to build a Europe and Eurasia whole, free, and at peace; to promote good governance; to build confidence and security through arms control; to resolve protracted conflicts in the OSCE region; and to encourage democracy and respect for human rights.  The United States supports the contributions of the OSCE across all three dimensions of its comprehensive security mandate and values, in particular the work of the 15 OSCE field missions.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States stood firmly by our NATO allies in confronting the threats posed to their peace and security by the Soviet Union.  From the 1947 Truman Doctrine and 1948 Berlin Airlift to today, our policies are designed to promote freedom and democracy in Europe.  When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the United States was quick to support German reunification within NATO.  The United States led the efforts to bring peace and security to the countries of the former Yugoslavia through the painful years of the Balkans crises, and we have supported the European and Euroatlantic aspirations of newly independent countries.