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Created in 1834, the Zollverein was an economic organization configured as a customs union. Numerous German states joined forces to create a free trade Area and establish customs tariffs against third countries.
With Europe bleeding in the Napoleonic wars, the first voices that advocated a German trade union began to emerge. As the nineteenth century passed, the economy of the German states progressed and commercial unity was claimed.
The road to Zollverein
The numerous customs, the existence of various customs regulations and the wide variety of rights of payment that had to be faced when trading between the German states They had become real obstacles. Trying to simplify a regulation so complex, the German economist Friedrich List was in favour of establishing a unique regulation while the German states joined forces to dealing with the great commercial power of the time: Great Britain.
Among the tangle of German states that existed in the nineteenth century, the most powerful of them all, Prussia, was the pioneer in the unification of customs regulation. Thus, in all the territory that Prussia had won after the Congress of Vienna, some duty common.
The economic reality German at the time was complex and implementing a customs union was not going to be a simple task. While eastern Germany was characterized by a heavyweight of agriculture in the economy, where the nobility controlled large areas of land. On the contrary, the German West began to industrialize while it was a society in which the bourgeoisie gained weight.
For its part, Bavaria had managed to establish a customs union, even expanding this union with Württemberg. Thus, tariffs were established against third countries while the goods could circulate freely.
Economic and political consequences
With commercial unification and advancing tariff, the first steps were being taken towards what was going to Be an important German customs union. All this would culminate in the year 1834 with the creation of the Zollverein or German Customs Union. So, a conglomerate from small German states, they ended customs and facilitated traffic of merchandise.
Now, despite the significant accession of a good number of German states, there were cities and states that chose not to join the Zollverein. It was the members of the so-called Hanseatic League.
One of the consequences Immediate free movement of goods was felt in the expense of the member states The countries that made up the Zollverein had to devote less resources to border control, which was an important
savings to the public treasury.
Another effect of this customs union was the emergence of a large German market in which to trade. The increase in economic activity improved German development, giving rise to an important rail network and driving the industrialization.
Despite the free movement of goods and the establishment of a common tariff policy, Zollverein did not mean a full economic union of Germany. Each state had its own economic policy, not forgetting that they also used different currencies.
The Zollverein always had the political and economic rivalry of Austria, which failed to overcome the German states economically, whose head was the powerful kingdom of Prussia.
A model of economic integration
Beyond its importance as a commercial organization, the Zollverein had a great impact at the level political. In this sense, Zollverein is considered as the germ that he would end up unifying the Teutons in what would be known as the Empire German.
Also at the political level, it should be noted that the Zollverein had its importance in the economic union of Europe. Thus, the Customs Union of Germany was taken as an example for the subsequent construction of the European Union.