The cold war


The Cold War has been one of the most important facts happened in history, therefore, in order to understand the consequences of the end of the Cold War in Europe, it would be firstly appropriate to provide a brief overview on the subject of the Cold war. Firstly and most important, the reasons of why and how this situation had started. Following, the main body will be majorly concentrated on the consequences that the end of it, has brought to Europe, discussing findings of either positive or negative effects. Concluding this essay, it would more than appropriate to provide ways that could have been followed to avoid any kind of negative influences, and how the situation could have been different.

The Cold War was mostly a political situation which took part following World War II. Around the late 1940s the Cold War found the two major strong countries, the USA and the USSR, facing each other, resulting them to become two important rivals. The reasons were mostly focusing on diplomatic and ideological reasons rather than concentrating on force; that has been the reason for characterising it as Cold War. The political competition lasted almost for fifty years, bringing its end during the early years of the 1990's.

According to several sceptics on the subject, Cold War has been the result of the brake up of the World War II alliance between the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Union, facing mistrust and misunderstanding. Following to this matter it would be appropriate to mention that the United States and Great Britain, faced the Soviet Union with mistrust, even before the start of World War II; accordingly, the Soviet Union was facing its rivals on the same mistrusting way. Particularly, according to the Russian History Encyclopedia, two major subjects that differentiated Cold War from other facts in modern history, were a fundamental clash of ideologies (Marxism-Leninism versus liberal democracy); and a highly stratified global power structure in which the United States and the Soviet Union were regarded as "superpowers" that were preeminent over - and in a separate class from - all other countries. (


According to the above, following to the next paragraphs, the consequences of the end of the Cold War will be unfolded and analyzed. Human rights, democracy and freedom started to be expressed after Michael Gorbachev's policies, (such as Perestroika in June 1987) were considered as political and mostly economical changes and reforms. Germany (Berlin) was the centre of disagreements in the Cold War period for the two "superpowers" (USA-USSR). The fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th November 1989 signified the end of the Cold War.

In the late 20th century, with the end of the Cold War, geopolitical changes came along in the European countries. Mostly Central European countries, which were now free from Communism and could express democracy, started preparing for the accession to the European Communities in the future by changing their economic and political views and structures. In the mean time, economic and political changes were taking part all over Europe, creating good chances for the establishment of democracy and a free market, with economic assurances determined by the law. In addition, Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) and the Warsaw Pact, which were both considered as military and economic structures, came to an end in 1991.

Countries in Central Europe and Eastern Europe needed help to develop a liberal economy and political democracy. The establishment of their position in a Single Market would provide them with the benefit to become members of the European Economic Community (EEC). Michael Gorbachev, the president of the USSR, decided that the Member States of Comecon could now negotiate individual trade agreements with the EEC. Hence, in a two year period from 1988-1990, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Soviet Union, East Germany and Bulgaria achieved trade agreements.

Additionally to this, on a proposal from the Commission, arrangements for association called the "Europe Agreements", were adopted to benefit these countries. The first countries found to have signed firstly the Europe Agreements, were Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland. The Association Agreements were established to reassure a bilateral free trade between the EEC and the CEEC's regarding industrial products, for the development of technical, scientific and industrial collaboration, establishing financial aid for a number of years.

The practice of the agreements would finally develop through the progress of the economic liberation, human rights and multiparty democracy. These bilateral agreements were therefore managed by a Joint Council. The Joint Council had been a formation created primarily by a lobby of EU member states and the candidate country. The meaning for the formation of the Europe Association Agreements, was to observe and take into consideration the situation every country was in and were signed on the 16th December 1991 by Hungary and Poland, on the 1st of February 1993 by Romania, the 8th of March 1993 by Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and Slovakia after their separation on the 4th October 1993.

Accordingly, on the 1st March 1993, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, signed the Central European Free Trade Agreement with the intention to create stronger relations between the European Union and the four Visagrad countries. On the other hand though, the relations that were tried to established, remained bilateral between the European Union and these countries. Later on, on the 12th of June 1995, and while being gradually benefited by the trade and cooperation agreements, the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) additionally, signed the Europe Agreements with Slovenia following the same steps and signing later on, on the 10th of June 1996.

Moreover, with only that single measure, it would not be enough to implement an aid program, therefore in 1989 the community established the Phare (Poland and Hungary: Assistance for Restructuring their Economies) program. Until 1990, the Phare program was extended to all Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC's). In addition to these emergency measures, and while observing a rapid development and a new face of Europe, the Community decided to determine strong and important connections with the CEECs.

The purpose of the Europe Agreements was to get ready for the final access of the CEEC's to the European Union. According to the Copenhagen European Council (constituted on the 21-22 June 1993), reassured that candidate countries which held associate membership could acquire full position as members of the European Union, by fulfilling the appropriate political and economic requirements, such as human rights, guaranteed democracy and a stable market economy.

Finally, from 2007-2013, the European Union has established new external aid instruments. Phare and other pre-accession instruments, such as the CARDS neighborhood program, which aimed to provide Community assistance to the countries of South-Eastern Europe, and to provide the possibility of participating in the process of stabilization and association with the EU, was also absorbed by the IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance). The European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) replaced the Tacis and MEDA neighborhood instruments in 2007.


Concluding this essay, and summarizing all the above, it can be observed that the Cold War affected many countries and nations and changed the world in many aspects. At this point it would be appropriate to mention Eva Burrows, stating that "We may have lost the fear of the bomb in this post cold-war era, but many have not lost the fear of what the future will hold; as someone said to me recently, 'The future isn't what it used to be" ( People in past times and more appropriately during and post the Cold War era, couldn't even imagine what the future would hold for them and the wounds that the post Cold War era had left on their world. They had to start all over, developing their political establishments and market economies. Europe had to be reunited again, as George H W Bush said: "The Cold War began with the division of Europe. It can only end when Europe is whole" (


  • Mazower, M (1998), Dark Continent, Penguin, chapter 11
  • Gowan, P (2002), "The EU and Eastern Europe: Diversity without Unity" in Farrell M et al European Integration in the 21st Century, Sage
  • John W. Mason (1996), "The Cold War 1945-1991", Routledge
  • Dunbabin J.P.D. (1994), "The Cold War The Great Powers and their allies", Longman
  • John W. Young (1991), "Cold War Europe 1945-1989 A Political History", Routledge, Chapman and Hall Inc.
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