The move towards closer western European co-operation has been the most striking development since the end of the Second World War. As we have seen in Chapter 9, the onset of the Cold War, and in particular the threat posed by Soviet-sponsored communism, persuaded the western democracies that European reconstruction based on democratic principles would require a common economic, political and military effort. The initial move towards European integration took place alongside the Berlin blockade, which, although lifted in May 1949, resulted in the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The division of Germany only served to accelerate the desire to draw up a joint programme of needs, resources and requirements to consolidate western Europe.