Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-011"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is for me both a great joy and a great honour, here today, to honour the memory of the great European Jean Monnet and to recall that it was the Italian anti-fascist and democratic Communist Altiero Spinelli who was behind the 14 February 1984 draft treaty founding the European Union, and the precursor of the draft constitution drafted by the European Convention, and which, as is well known, the European Parliament of the time approved by a remarkably large majority. At that time, Altiero Spinelli made it expressly clear that it was above all the European Parliament that, being legitimised as a European institution by the direct suffrage of the citizens, had the vocation of pressing on with European integration and developing it further. This message of Spinelli’s may well sound like a bequest, but I see it as still being valid today, and so, in the future too, it should guide this House’s actions as 25 States join in hammering out the co-existence of 450 million people in the European Union, and do so on a basis of solidarity, democratically and socially. I am convinced that it is only thus that the unification of Europe, having been officially consummated on 1 May, can really succeed and have a future. Altiero Spinelli was elected to the European Parliament in 1979, having stood as a candidate for the Italian Communist Party. He sat as a member of what was at the time the Communist Group, which consisted almost exclusively of representatives of the Italian and French Communist Parties. From July 1982, as chairman of the Committee on Institutional Affairs, he was in charge of drawing up the draft Treaty. Regarding myself as belonging very much to Spinelli’s tradition, I am sure you will not mind if I focus my recollections today on him as a man and as a politician. My main reason for doing so is that Altiero Spinelli’s definitive abandonment of Stalinism occurred as early as 1937, and that he later unswervingly championed European unification with idealism, passion, energy and occasional visions in advance of his own time, whether as an advisor to De Gasperi, to Jean Monnet, to the Italian foreign minister Pietro Nenni, as a visiting professor and political scientist, as a member of the Commission or of Parliament. His critics and opponents accused him of an occasional tendency to dream dreams and lose touch with reality, which, it has to be said, meant that he made not only friends in the ranks of his own group. For me, Altiero Spinelli personifies the most recent aspects of our European heritage. He learned from bitter experience that nationalism, fascism and war must be consigned to the past; that was what motivated his so passionate dedication to a united Europe. For fighting against fascism, Altiero Spinelli endured many years in Mussolini’s jails. That made it only logical that Spinelli should be among the prime movers behind the draft European manifesto at the European resistance conferences in Geneva in 1944. Even before the end of the war, Spinelli returned to Northern Italy and participated in the armed resistance. After the war, he was alongside such people as Henri Frenay, the leader of the French resistance movement and Eugen Kogon, a German who survived Buchenwald, as a co-founder of the European movement. For Altiero Spinelli, then, it was from the struggle against fascism that he acquired a sense of responsibility for Europe’s development as a peaceful and free democracy, and, right up to his death on 23 May 1986, he treasured his freedom, which had been bought at a great price, and maintained his firm faith in a peaceful and united Europe. It is this anti-fascist heritage of which I believe we should always be mindful, and which, above all, should always guide our actions."@en1

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