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Mario Monti and his European dilemma

, by Nicola Vallinoto

“I am convinced that we will never have the United States of Europe. The main reason is that we do not need it”. Mario Monti passed judgment in an interview given to the German newspaper Die Welt just before the bilateral summit on January 11 in Berlin with Angela Merkel.

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The Italian Prime Minister’s statement has also startled Barbara Spinelli, who considers it disheartening, to say the least. She declared so in an article published the following day in the Fatto Quotidiano, entitled “The Monti paradox: a pro-European who does not believe in the European Union.” This is “a terrible surrender because if we do not need Europe right now, when will be the time for it?” Admittedly, “war and peace are no longer at stake.” The columnist also declared that “according to Monti, the dream has already been fulfilled thanks to subsidiarity. But subsidiarity works provided that Europe has state sovereignty: otherwise, it does not mean anything. If the EU existed, we would not be staring into an abyss.”

Monti’s statement baffled European federalists because it was made by a former European commissioner who belonged, for that matter, to the Spinelli Group’s founding fathers, along with people from the European political and cultural sphere such as Ulrich Beck, Amartya Sen, Daniel Cohn Bendit, Jacques Delors, Joschka Fischer and Guy Verhofstadt.

The Spinelli Group Manifesto clearly states that its main objective is still the creation of a federal and post-national Europe, considered as the only way to permanently overcome an intergovernmental Europe and the revival of nationalist feelings, which never completely disappeared. For the Spinelli Group, today more than ever, a federal Europe is an objective that should be achieved rapidly. The financial and economic crisis has indeed highlighted the inexistence of the United States of Europe.

In all likelihood, had Monti made a statement more open to a federal development of the EU, on the eve of a major meeting with the German chancellor, the most progressive ideas in Merkel’s party would have been strengthened. This would also have reinforced the stance of Ursula von der Leyen, German Labour Minister and vice-president of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany). Indeed, at the beginning of September, she had reaffirmed on the weekly newspaper Der Spiegel that her objective was the United States of Europe.

She thinks that “this is the only way to overcome the economic differences which are pulling apart our European governments. The single currency is not enough to face global competition, and only a European political union will be able to fully integrate financial, fiscal and economic policies, finally leaving room for the united Europe to show its strength.”

It is truly unfortunate that Mario Monti did not want to take advantage of the new credibility of the Italian government, using it against France and Germany and urging the creation of the United States of Europe. Yet, his speech at the Senate, on November 17, and particularly the claim: “there is no such thing as us and them: Europe is made up of all of us”, had captivated the imagination of the advocates of a free and united Europe.

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The article has first been published by imille.org

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