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EDITORIAL
from issue no. 05 - 2007

Desire for Europe


The territory has expanded until now when it almost coincides with the whole continent, but perhaps precisely that enlargement has attenuated the original urge. It is a delicate moment. The two referenda – in France and Holland – in which the number of votes required was not reached threaten to weaken the drive toward effective homogeneity of the scheme


Giulio Andreotti


The signing of the Treaty of Rome in the Orazi e Curiazi room on the Capitoline, in Rome, 25 March 1957

The signing of the Treaty of Rome in the Orazi e Curiazi room on the Capitoline, in Rome, 25 March 1957

The decision of the current Chancellor of Germany to celebrate the half century of life of the European Community in Berlin and not in Rome disappointed me, not for patriotic reasons but because a strong message for further political development of the Union could have emanated from the Capitoline.
The territory has expanded until now when it almost coincides with the whole continent, but perhaps precisely that enlargement has attenuated the original urge.
It is a delicate moment. The two referenda – in France and Holland – in which the number of votes required was not reached threaten to weaken the drive toward effective homogeneity of the scheme.
We were perhaps too rash at Maastricht when we spoke of «shared foreign and security policy». In his draft Constitution, President Giscard d’Estaing could not retreat; while in fact work needs to be done to construct consensus, step by step.
Some of the countries who have just joined have made very great sacrifices to qualify for inclusion in the enlargement. Woe betide if we should scandalize them now with dilution or with unnecessary delays.
When the economic sphere had to be strictly respected ways were found – for example, by taking advantage of the University Games meetings – to get the government spokesmen for public education of all the member countries around the same table.
In more general fashion, the Union needs to deepen and amplify its social aims. I remember when this issue of social policy came up in the European Council. Mrs. Thatcher (understandably, for that matter, because Great Britain had had to overcome formidable difficulties in order to join) objected that social policy must remain a matter of national sovereignty. There might be consensus on social aims, but they were to be dealt with autonomously.
It is legally important that before meetings of the Council trade union representations be heard; but it is a pure consultation and I believe we need to aim higher.
The abolition of frontiers has had an enormous legal and psychological significance; but it is essential that integration be progressively given palpable positive contents.
We veterans of 1957 must be particularly concerned for this line of development, something that requires definite stages but most of all a politically and spiritually receptive and open state of mind.
I am always mindful of the dying De Gasperi, saddened because after two years the European Community Defense Treaty had still not been ratified by the Italian parliament. A few days later France buried it with the negative vote of its own parliament.
The ceremony of the solemn Common Declaration in Berlin by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, 25 March 2007

The ceremony of the solemn Common Declaration in Berlin by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union, 25 March 2007

Thinking of those setbacks the present difficulties shrink. But a great effort of determination is needed to get desire for Europe to grow. Rome 1957 cancelled Paris 1954.
Umberto Eco has spoken evocatively of the European roots, setting the Jewish and Greco-Romans ones alongside the Christian.
Certain ironies on the mercantile decisions – coming sometimes from the village pump – of these great global revolutions are to be rejected. I close with a particular quotation from a 2005 essay: «In the historic developments we are experiencing at an accelerated pace, it seems to me that two factors emerge over all, symptomatic of an evolution, previously only very much more slowly at work. The first is the rise of a society on a world scale, in which the various political, economic and cultural powers are ever more interdependent, touching and interpenetrating in their different spheres. The other is the growth in mankind’s possibilities of producing and of destroying, something that raises, well beyond the usual, the question of the legal and moral control of power. And, in consequence, the question (of the maximum urgency) of how, in their encounter, cultures can find ethical bases capable of adequately underpinning their co-existence and of building a shared structure legally responsible for the control and ordering of power».
The author was Joseph Ratzinger, who a few months later became Benedict XVI.


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