Italy within the framework of a United Europe

By Stefania Fidanza, Liceo Scientifico "Ruffini" Civita Castellana, ITALY, 1997

(English translation by Barbara Buddeke of Accademia Farnese, Caprarola (VT), ITALY)

Contribution to the EDUVINET "European Identity" subject

Up to 1945, a system of historically consolidated sovereign states had played a leading role in global policy. During the first half of the Twentieth century, the role of Italy in world policy was affected by its domestic situation.

Infact, the most valuable result of post-war reconstruction policy was perhaps Italy's return, in full capacity, within the system of alliances among Western democratic nations.

First and foremost, Italy had to save itself: it looked as it was split in two and the victorious powers (i.e. Great Britain and USSR) did not make due allowances for Italian Resistance.

Historians have tried to seek the causes of last war on several levels.

On the 29th July, 1947, on the occasion of the peace treaty ratification, Luigi Einaudi analysed the causes of world wars, and found that the deepest reason lied in the issue of European unification. In his words, wars had been the attempts to solve Europe's unification by violence.

The notion that fought wars were to give rise to a "peace policy" was unanimously shared.

"European states have become a historical anachronism, the enemy number one for peace is the myth of absolute sovereignty of states".

In the years of reconstruction, the ideal to work for in Italy was the disavowal of nationalism. In post-war Italy, the need for a change and for the development of a Europe-oriented policy was immediately felt. What was the state of Europe, by that time ?

The non-communist part of Europe was one of beaten countries (Germany and Italy). Italy came out of the war with a strong communist party that influenced the buoyancy and development of the political system. PSI and PCI, both Stalinist parties in 1946, got 20.7 and 18.9 % of votes, respectively.

Foreign policy (i.e. "European policy") suffered from the domestic situation: the main goal of foreign policy was to protect social structure from outer dangers.

In May 1947, De Gasperi removed socialists and communists from the Government.

In order to attract electors, to get economy back in order, and have support from Western countries, rapid decisions had to be made, with no ideological hesitation.

Thus, De Gasperi dismissed the left wing and asked the liberal Einaudi to back him up.

The Consituent Assembly draw up the republican Constitution, reconciling Catholic culture with socialism and communism by a series of programmatic statements susceptible of several interpretations.

The Constitution decidedly rejects nationalism, one of Fascism corner-stones. Italy is a national, not a nationalistic state: it is a sovereign state defending and acknowledging its own identity compared to other states, but is open, co-operative and inclined to integration. We daresay that its sovereignty is a starting point that does not prevent Italy from being part of international co-operation and establishing super-national institutions.

Art. 11 of the Constitution states that sovereignty can be restricted, conditions being equal with other states, in view of the establishment of an international organization able to assure peace and justice among nations.

Moreover, Italy committed itself to promote international organizations working to this end. The Constitution is thus meant to affirm that international peace and justice justify limiting what was a traditionally essential and absolute nature of states, i.e. their sovereignty.

Later on, article 11 has taken up an essential role for Italy's partnership in EEC construction.

Note should be taken of the fact that when USSR and Western countries came to an agreement over the division of Europe into areas of influence, in 1944, Italy was placed in the Western sphere. To keep the arrangement and avert retaliations, USSR had to stop any would-be revolution in Italy. PCI ended up by being dwarfed by such an overwhelming reality.

Italy, like other European countries, had to find a place on the international scene, that had radically changed by that time. In the framework of agreements initialled at Yalta, Russia and America superpowers had the last word on the developments within Europe.

The idea of Europe arose after the catastrophe of war, just as an antidote to the hegemony of USA and USSR superpowers.

The concept of Europe had already appeared in history in many ways, but was to grow and develop on other grounds, as the new, expanding European economic and commercial power during the following post-war decades.

The ideal option to that path was a federalist program, undertaken in Italy with great care. The creation of the United States of Europe had a long way to go. From a co-operation among states, there was a need to "rise" to more complete forms of super-national integration, according to a federalist aspiration.

Only in 1984 did the european Parliament speak for this aspiration, by approving a project for a new treaty for the establishment of European Union.
Going back to post-war Italy, we may single out the expressions of its foreign policy on two different fields:

Both approaches had a common point: availability to dialogue and mediation, marked by a plethora of diplomatic actions, generally ending up in few concrete actions.

From 1948 and 1953, De Gasperi formed three governments with lay parties. He allowed Italy to grow, thanks to Marshall Plan, and gave it back its prestige, to such an extent that it joined NATO.

The Italian government gave a positive contribution to the negotiation of Rome Treaty, signed on 25th March, 1957. The essential aspects of negotiation were entrusted to the officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Foreign Trade.

Upon the initiative of Italy, the European Investment Bank and the Social Fund were established.

Thanks to "Italy's coherence in supporting the traditional notion of democratic, open, supernational and representative Europe" (Aldo Moro, Atti Parlamentari, Discussioni leg. IV Camera dei Deputati), community-initiatives were positively spurred.

Unfortunately, such a political coherence was not enough to promote the idea of Europe for citizens. Infact, the political coherence of principles also needed the support of an effective presence in Community life.

During the Sixties, Europeanism came to correspond to antigaullism.

Italy defended the super-natural attitude of Rome Treaty against gaullist project;

It could be concluded that Italy played a balancing role in the earlier years of the market, as it knew what its limits were in the relationships with the two major community-partners, as a result of the evolution of its domestic political forces. Other socialist parties started as well to see Europeanism as the new fronteer for Europe's democratic development. On the other hand, the limits of "Italian-made" Europeanism can be found in the deep contrasts among political forces, and in the resulting failure to relate its foreign and domestic policy, as well, to the effort for the construction of Europe.

Until the Seventies, communists were anti-Europeanist and patronized isolationist and neutralist theses, thus supporting Soviet diplomacy's attempt to set Western nations at variance.

Although supporting the notion of Europe as the actual achievement of its nature, one of its oldest civil goals, underlying its very constitution as a unitary state, Italy was losing its status of nation in which State is the sole fount of law; and more, the development of economic and social processes were falling beyond control.

The system of political alliances did not help developing the country's cultural and social growth.

Infact, after the death of Moro and Berlinguer, both the leading parties were left without a strategy. More than ever before, politicians proved to be culturally unprepared to manage modern society. The membership of European Community and the sharing of technological development were urging on red-tape modernization, the cutting down of public deficit, the close of governmentalism, and the restraint of organized crime. Not one of these goals was reached.

From 1983 to 1987, the socialist Bettino Craxi was the Prime Minister, aiming at breaking the axis between PCI and DC. Nevertheless, his plan was unsuccessful due to the general, widespread corruption. Like other leaders, and maybe more, Craxi supposed he would become stronger thanks to unlawful fundings and to the race for strategic positions.

Presently, Italy's policy vis-à-vis Europe is organized as follows:

It is clear that an action of political co-ordination should be undertaken, to assure unitary management for our European policy, although acknowledging entitlements.

Italy will be able to cope with its structural weaknesses, namely public debt, red-tape inefficiency, the inadeguacy of services and political instability, only through outer constraints like those implied by Europe membership.

After giving good results in Italy, the method of concerted actions may be applied to a European level, as well.

More than ever before, today peoples may be joined from a cultural viewpoint. The Europe of culture is an extraordinarily complex social and cultural asset, that should be protected and preserved. What matters is to create a common identity, a sense of belonging and sharing that can coexist. The creation of a unifying framework is more significant than transversal actions.

Italy's half-year of presidency in 1996, under Dini's term, has paved the way to a new pattern of integration, whose watchwords are "flexible integration", and the struggle against unemployment turns into a political priority, to offset economic and monetary Union convergences.

The latest presidency of Italy went on without a jerk, unlike previous terms during which significant developments had been reached.

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