International Seminar: Federalism from Europea to the World

During one week, August 31 - September 5, 2003, the international seminar in Ventotene, Italy, was organised by the 'Altiero Spinelli' Institute for Federalist Studies and JEF-Italy. 50 'official' international, mostly JEF, participants and close to 20 JEF and UEF federalist 'tourists' (who had come on their own terms to freely combine the pleasures of the 'federalist paradise' with the opportunity to discuss federalism) had found their way to the island to continue the path laid out by Altiero SPINELLI whose daughter, Barbara SPINELLI, attended the seminar for the first time.

 A moving ceremony at the grave of Altiero SPINELLI' gave a historical dimension to the seminar. The prominence of the seminar was illustrated by the considerable media coverage it received by the Italian media, including from the national news on the TV station RAI 2 (right after a reportage about the situation in Iraq!) and several important Italian Newspapers, such as La Stampa.

On the occasion of the seminar's 20th anniversary, the competent speakers  (among them UEF Bureau members Alfonso IOZZO, Marc-Oliver PAHL and Richard LAMING and UEF FC members Giovanni BIAVA, Paola DE ANGELIS, Jan KREUTZ, Lucio LEVI, Alberto MAJOCCHI and Jon WORTH and UEF Secretary-General Bruno BOISSIERE), and enthusiastic participants discussed issues, such as the challenges of globalisation, popular identification with the EU and necessary federalist actions.

All participants agreed that globalisation necessitated European regional unity based on federal institutions. The main task of a federal Europe would be to counteract the dominance of the USA and work for a democratisation and federalisation of international politics. Enlargement of the EU was seen to be part of the European 'mission' and moral obligation to unify the continent to promote welfare, democracy and peace in the world. However, during the discussion with Tommaso PADOA-SCHIOPPA, a Member of the Board of the European Central Bank, the question whether globalisation would 'pre-empt' subsidiarity by making necessary the concentration of more and more competences at the European level in order to resist external pressures and to compete on the global market was hotly debated.

European integration was furthermore linked to the issues of citizenship and identity that were regarded as imperative for the participation in and identification of Europeans with the EU. At the same time, however, everyone agreed that the concepts of citizenship should be distinguished from 'nationality'. European citizenship should not be accompanied by the creation of a European nation-state based on a homogeneous cultural identity, on the contrary. European identity would exist alongside, not instead of, other identities. Since the European Union would become the first federation of nation-states, that is, of states where national cultures were formed and still predominate, only a model of identity based on universal values and the dedication to common political values embodied in a common constitution would be viable. There was, however, no agreement whether a common identity without feelings of cultural belonging-together could exist.

Finally, the two main tasks for the next months were outlined: getting the draft Constitution unchanged through the IGC and informing the European public about its content and merits and mobilizing citizens and parties for the European elections.

The outcome of tasks and important events will surely form the main topics at next year's seminar!