Mr. President, Gentlemen of the Council and the Commission,
Unfortunately prophetic, even as long ago as 1942 in the Ventotene Manifesto your Europe of the Nations was already being denounced as the principal alternative threat to the United States of Europe, to the European Fatherland.
It was on the 14th of February 1984 that this very Parliament strove against this poisonous policy. Now, taking its revenge, the Council of Europe has waged a veritable blitzkrieg, like that of General Erwin Rommel, to impose obedience upon us, obedience to which suddenly today we shamefully acquiesce, through so-called “parliaments” like those of the nineteen-thirties, be they fascist or communist or tainted by continental cowardice.
Listen: and tremble at the words, at our paean, at our symbol, our name, our “laws” – the word is forbidden, you prefer “directives”.
The days have passed: suddenly it is the time of Great France, of Strong Germany, of the clerical and authoritarian, perhaps even racist, party in Poland, of an Italy which is good for nothing, or everything. It is the time to be afraid of the powerful, and of those who abuse that power.
As European federalists, we call to fight this decline in the names of those you betray: Spinelli, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi, Monnet.
We ask this as radical federalists, federalists of the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transaprty, as well as the dedicated members of the Liberal-Democratic Group, who we fear are this day making a mistake.
I pray the mistake may be ours, but alas I am certain this cannot be the case. Long live our Fatherland, Europe!
AND I VOTE “NO”!
The Nonviolent Radical Party reiterates its federalist choice for the United States of Europe, only alternative to the resurgence of nationalist forces and the bureaucratic drift of the European Union.
It is one of the three objectives set by the Rebibbia Congress in 2016. It was the beginning of September, Donald Trump was to be elected in December, and the virus of nationalism and protectionism had not yet fully returned from the political margins they were reduced to by history. These two instruments of the past have come back to haunt us, with the illusion that national politics are able to overcome and govern the great borderless problems of our time.
Ventotene today means to oppose federalism, to oppose the United States of Europe to the Europe of inter-governmentalism. Our proposal is the only alternative to both this Europe and anti-European programmes consisting of institutional nationalism and economic protectionism. We no longer want to await what this Europe cannot give or continue to receive that which is unacceptable. We favour a federal defence mechanism and army, federal diplomacy, a federal treasury ministry, and federal Eurobonds for public debt management; for the abolition of the European Stability Mechanism; for a different development aid policy; for the abolition of unnecessary, if not harmful, protectionist measures.
United States of Europe, why?
There is no political, social or economic field in which Nation States can act with more efficiency or at a lesser cost than policies adopted at a federal level.
As a study of the European Parliament demonstrates, under the current Treaties, the European Union could save up to 1.597 billion euros each year.
An excellent example is a federal defence system, not only with regard to cooperation in the ambit of weapon systems, but through the creation of a truly federal army.
A research study by the Centro studi sul federalismo and the Istituto Affari Internazionali calculated
a total deficit due to a non-European defence system up to 120 billion euro per year. The final number may be even higher, due to the strategic and political costs of the current inter-governative regime, which impede the efficiency of any future foreign policy of the European Union.
Therefore, any federal defence system should come with a truly federal diplomacy, rendering one European foreign policy possible.
Marco Pannella, long-time leader of the NRPTT and Member of the European Parliament since its very first election in 1979, incessantly continued working on the United States of Europe as envisioned by Altiero and Ursulla Spinelli, Ernesto and Ada Rossi, and Eugenio Colorni while they were imprisoned by the fascist regime on the island of Ventotene during the Second World War. Pannella reassumed this vision well during his last speech in the plenary session of the European Parliament on May 4, 2009:
“Mr President, Honourable colleagues, like you I have been here for the past thirty years. But unfortunately the balance sheet we can draw for this past thirty years is not exactly what we hoped for when in 1985 this Parliament decided to abandon the old, failed inter-governative Europe, to march towards the United States of Europe. Today, we have returned to that hideous past – a Europe of fatherlands, but not one European homeland –, within our bulwarks. Once, the peoples around us looked at us with great hope, at a land full of possibilities. Now, those same people despise us and turn away from voting, condemning that which we represent: another metamorphosis of the exact same evil against which the European Union was created.”
The goal set at the Rebibbia Congress is to continue this struggle, through the following objectives:
overcome the annual cost of 1.600 billion euros due to a non-Europe, as estimated by the European Parliament;
- to give democratic control to the Members of the European Parliament of the countries within the Eurozone on the European Stability Mechanism with the same urgency by which the Mechanism was adopted, as well as over all Institutions and instruments of European economic governance;
that the European Parliament elected in 2019 be granted constituent powers to overcome the inter-governative decision-making method, and to move back on the abandoned path of federalism;
that the decision-making processes, such as the meetings of the European Council, be held publicly in order to allow for democratic scrutiny and public debate.
Where do we come from?
1914 – 1941: From economic depression, over protectionism, through two World Wars, nationalism, and totalitarianism … to the Ventotene Manifesto
Everything is reoccurring. In 1914, the economist Antonio De Viti De Marco founded the Anti-Protectionist League to contrast the protectionist and nationalist policies that led to the first World War, that successively brought Germany and Italy to fascism and to similar regimes in 14 of the current European Union Member States.
The reasons that led to the adoption of protectionist and nationalist policies at the beginning of the past century are the same reasons for which those policies are being proposed again today: economic depression. We believe the only alternative is to continue the federalist European alternative of the Manifesto di Ventotene, Per un’Europa libera e unita, written in 1941 by Altiero Spinelli, Ernesto Rossi and Eugenio Colorni.
1950 – 1957: From the Community of Coal and Steel, through the failure of the European Defence Union, to the European Economic Community defined by Altiero Spinelli in 1957 as a “gigantic cheating”.
A mere five years after the Second World War, the founding fathers of the new Europe, the French Robert Schuman, the German Konrad Adenauer and the Italian Alcide De Gaspari – with whom Altiero Spinelli collaborated – conceived the Community of Coal and Steel and signed its Treaty in 1951. In 1952, the French Jean Monnet came up with an embryonic idea of a European army, the European Community of Defence, but in August 1954 the French Parliament voted against the proposal. In the end, on March 25, 1957, the founding Treaties of the European Economic Community were signed in Rome, and promptly defined by Altiero Spinelli as a “gigantic cheating”.
1957: Manifest of European Federalists
At the same moment the EEC Treaties are signed in Rome, Altiero Spinelli publishes the Manifest of European Federalists, proposing not only an analysis but also a series of concrete measures to implement the project. The Manifest contains “the fundamental ideas of those who struggle against the abusive pretexts of our Nation States, against the false Europeanism professed by our national politicians, for the right of the European people to find unity amongst them. The political vision of European federalism is as urgent as it is unknown. It implies in fact a profound criticism of the full scope of current European politics, and public opinion easily confounds it with the pale and incoherent stuff official Europeanism is made up from.”
The reasons behind this Manifest coincide with the motion adopted by the Nonviolent Radical Party at its 2016 Rebibbia Congress. It is an accusation against the official Europeanism made up of “the nationalism of democratic parties and their Governments”, which rather than moving the European Union forward towards the United States of Europe have reduced it to being an institution that protects national interests and privilege, the latter being in evident and increasing contrast with the rights and interests of the European citizens.
1984: European Parliament adopts the Spinelli Treaty and indicates a road towards federalism; promptly buried by national parties and Governments
The events of 1984 are fundamental knowledge to understand the current state of the European Union. The Committee for Institutional Affairs, presided by Altiero Spinelli and with Marco Pannella serving as its Vice-President, proposed some important reforms. While falling short of the United States of Europe in granting some concessions to national Governments, it aimed to set up a bicameral system with legislative power within the Union, similar to those in federal States. The European Parliament adopted the Treaty, but immediately after representatives of the Member States adopted the Single European Act, setting a radically different course to save national interests.
1979: Against starvation in the world
There is much to be said about the policies defined as “laissez-faire” in conjunction with so-called “globalization”. Suffice it to recall the campaign, launched almost forty years ago in 1979, against “extermination by starvation in the world”, calling for extraordinary investments to “return them to the development process alive”. The Manifest-Appeal, signed by 131 Nobel Prize Winners, denounced the ongoing holocaust caused by “international economic disorder”. The same disorder has allowed for the financialization of the international economic system, conceiving a system that globalizes economic activities but not human rights and democracy.
2012: Reducing economic deficit by augmenting the democratic deficit
In 2012, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is adopted. Conceived as a financial fund, it is transformed into an inter-governative organization, with a capacity of 700 billion euros. We believe it represents the clearest, blinding, example of the degeneration of the European Union. Even the American Newspaper International Business Times asked whether it doesn’t represent the beginning of a new European dictatorship. It is an organization no Member State can choose to leave; it obliges Member States to accept additional debt to pay off the debt matured in the past; its goods, availability and property, wherever they are held, are immune from any jurisdiction and cannot be subject to search, seizure, confiscation, expropriation or any other form of seizure arising out of executive, judicial, administrative or regulatory actions. They are exempt from any restrictions, controls and moratoria of any kind. In this framework, its staff enjoys immunity for acts performed in the official exercise of their functions and for the inviolability of all written acts and official documents drawn up.
The ESM is the point of arrival of an institution, the European Union, which in the name of its founding fathers has betrayed its aspirations.
This decision was followed by a series of revising Treaties, confirming that the choices made did non represent the best option for its citizens, but the lesser evil for Nation States.
It is no coincidence that nationalist and protectionist political groupings have gained considerable traction as this European Union grew, reducing any chance of working towards the United States of Europe. The latest electoral results, from Austria to The Netherlands and France – where anti-European forces obtained significant and, from our point of view, very worrying results – go counter to what all European mass media had taken for granted.
This happened within a political game that drew attention to the economic deficit, as a means to hide the democratic deficit, which is almost unanimously recognized as the weak point of the European Union.
The motion of the 2016 Rebibbia Congress is very clear in its succinctness, thanks to the historic events briefly described here. Events we feel to represent and which we will continue to represent.
The project of the United States of Europe cannot be achieved through a simple evolution of the current European Union as long as the latter will harbour organizations such as the ESM, even if and when its Member States would want a democratic evolution of the Union.
We cannot, we must not, we will not bow to the mantra of the “lesser evil” in exchange for a possible far-away future. After half a century, we must take note that the degeneration of a European Union founded on inter-governative processes among the Nation States cannot give birth to a federalist project. However, we can try to save as much as possible from the work done up until today to start building a new possible future.