Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-007"

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"Mr President, first of all I would like to thank you for paying tribute to the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and its chairman for the last five years. You see, Mr President, it is important for the history of the creation of this united Europe, begun more than 50 years ago, to become part of the common memory of the peoples represented in Parliament today: we should retrace and go back over this history in terms of the dates and milestones which characterised it and in terms of its protagonists. Today we are commemorating two of them who were not members of a government, who did not sign treaties, who did not work in the spotlight reserved for the powerful, but who were great men of vision and exponents of integration, that is, Jean Monnet and Altiero Spinelli. They were both convinced that Europe, divided and bloodstained following two devastating wars in the first half of the twentieth century, would only have a future if it united and overcame nationalism, rivalry and hostility between the States. They pointed out the path to take in order to establish a common European interest and to create institutions capable of expressing and pursuing it through the exercise of joint sovereignty. While it is true that Monnet and Spinelli had different approaches, different strategies to advance the cause of a united Europe, it is even more true that their ideal was the same and that they both dedicated their lives’ work to it. The strategy of Jean Monnet and the great French statesman, Robert Schuman, for whom he was a valuable adviser, was a strategy based on integrating the production, starting with coal and steel, the economies and the markets of the countries participating in the project, a strategy for the gradual development of European integration. It was defined as functionalist, aimed to lay tangible foundations for peace in Europe, firstly between France and Germany, and gave rise to the Communities which remained in operation until the Treaty of Maastricht of 1991. The strategy for which Altiero Spinelli was the combative standard-bearer was, on the contrary, a constituent strategy, for the political foundation of European unity according to a federalist design, and it was supported by the ideas of a great Italian statesman: Alcide De Gasperi. But at critical times, for example in 1955 when, following the failed attempt to create a Europe Defence Community, the integration process seemed to come to a standstill, the efforts of Monnet and Spinelli, although they followed different paths, both headed in the same direction. Spinelli wrote that he and Monnet were both stubbornly slaving away: Monnet in the hope of obtaining a fresh initiative from the governments, and he in the hope of obtaining from the movement new momentum, a new bottom-up stimulus. He said that despite their shared scepticism and all the obstacles, they would win. And that is what happened. That prophecy came true: the believers in Europeanism, the tenacious exponents of integration and fighters, Monnet and Spinelli, were victorious. We have now met goals, Mr President, which not even they dared to hope for, and finally the dream of European integration can be fulfilled: a dream which already took tangible form 20 years ago when the European Parliament adopted by an overwhelming majority the draft drawn up under the guidance of Altiero Spinelli, on 14 February 1984; also that date, which we are commemorating today, is celebrated as the date of birth of the constituent process. Twenty years on, the dream has become a fundamental requirement for the great new Europe. The constituent process must at last be achieved by approving the draft adopted by the Convention on the Future of Europe. We cannot stop now, we cannot turn back. The draft Constitution is not perfect, but it constitutes common ground established with difficulty between governments and parliaments. It could be improved by drawing on the Spinelli draft of 20 years ago, for example where it laid down – as Mrs de Palacio said – that the Treaty would enter into force as soon as it was ratified by a majority of the Member States and the population of the Community. The text of the Convention could be improved but it must not be weakened because, in that case, the newly created Union of 25 would run the risk of grinding to a halt and falling into crisis. And so nobody, none of the governments participating in the Intergovernmental Conference should retract their words and withdraw the approval they expressed in the Convention: this is the appeal which once again Parliament is making to everyone; this is the best way to honour in practice, without rhetoric, Altiero Spinelli and Jean Monnet."@en1

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