Guide The Super-State: The New Europe and Its Challenge to America

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Between March and June five meetings were held in 't Hooft's house. No full record of those attending was kept, but there were about fifteen people. There was some debate about whether to allow any Germans to be present, but a majority allowed Hilda Monte and Hanna Bertholet to slip into the room. Hilda Monte was later shot at the border when she tried illegally to cross back to Switzerland from Germany.

Nearly all those present were motivated by the same basic premise: namely that the internationalist concepts of the League of Nations should form the foundation for any federal Europe. The French and the Italians wanted to go much further than the others and curtail national sovereignty. That was to be the forerunner of many later battles. The participants signed the International Federalists' Declaration, which was edited by the Italians and based on the Ventotene Manifesto.

They wanted " The lack of unity and cohesion that still exists between the different parts of the world will not allow us to achieve immediately an organisation that unites all civilisations under a single federal government. At the end of the war one will therefore have to be content with setting up a universal organisation of a less ambitious kind, but one able to develop in the direction of federal unity.

The writers believed that the destruction from two world wars was due to the existence of thirty sovereign states; "this anarchy must be remedied by the creation of a Federal Union between the European peoples.

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Repeating the Ventotene Manifesto the writers thought: "only a federal Union will allow the German people to participate in the life of Europe without being a danger for the rest. They called for a government responsible to the people, one army responsible to the supra-government excluding all other armies, and a supreme tribunal. Finally they wanted a permanent headquarters from which to build the Federal Union.

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Secretly, the Declaration was sent from Switzerland to all occupied countries in Europe and to Britain. Reaction was mixed. In Britain the Socialist Vanguard Group10 was enthusiastic. Sir Walter Layton, whose influence on the Italians had been so marked, told the audience at the annual conference of the Geographical Association in January that there should be a world organisation combined with regions.

He advocated Spinelli's declaration which had been sent to him from Switzerland for "a central government for Europe responsible not to the various state governments but to the people. Only four of the Dutch resistance groups replied: they had more pressing engagements. One said, "this may seem surprising in Switzerland, but it is understandable to anyone who knows and experiences conditions here. The resistance groups are fully occupied with their own task, with day-to-day cares and the constant risk to their lives - executions of late have risen to over a month - and cannot be expected to find time or opportunity to consider such international questions with the necessary calm and deliberation.

After the Allied landings in Normandy in June , the resistance movements in all countries became increasingly concerned with the last battles against the Nazi occupiers; and then with their own national positions as the end of the war approached. In the late summer of Spinelli left Switzerland to return to Italy, and immediately became a leader of the Action Party Secretariat for Upper Italy, which took over from the Giellisti.

In December the Action Party proposed that the principle of the transfer of sovereign rights to a "democratic European federation" should be embodied in the Constitution of the Italian Republic:. The Italian State considers its own absolute sovereignty to be provisional and is prepared to transfer those sovereign functions which are of supranational concern to a future democratic federation of Europe in which Italians would enjoy all the rights and assume all the obligations of federal citizens. In this supranational clause was made part of the new constitution of the Italian Republic.

Most of those who voted for it did not understand what they were doing: in the understated words of one historian it "proved quite useful. Colorni, who had converted to federalism on Ventotene and became the first clandestine editor of L'Unita Europea, was active in rebuilding the Socialist Party in Rome.

In August , the new underground Socialist groups were merged into one with a programme which, thanks to Colorni, combined internationalist principles with the idea of European federation. Colorni published the Ventotene Manifesto and promoted it widely. In May he was murdered by the Fasciti.

Professor Einaudi, whose smuggled works had inspired Spinelli on Ventotene, returned from his Swiss exile and in and was a member of the Constituent Assembly. After the peace treaty was ratified on 29th July , Einaudi said, "the next goal is the United States of Europe". Immediately after the war Spinelli led the Movimento Federalista Europeo MFE which he and his former fellow prisoners had begun in the Milanese bookshop in Because he was in prison during his twenties and most of his thirties he was even more single-minded than most wartime resistance members.

The MFE did not achieve much more until after June , when its most powerful leader, Spinelli, and his friend Rossi returned to international politics. Until then Spinelli concentrated on pushing for a republican constitution: he rightly saw no chance of any kind of European federation in the first three years after the war.

In the first years of peace many pressure groups for European federalism were formed; but all were tiny except for the revolutionary European Union of Federalists UEF. By mid that had , members, mainly in France and Italy. Its leader was the Dutchman, Hendrik Brugmans, who had studied at the Sorbonne and during the war worked briefly for the Je Maintiendra resistance movement. He supported "the great Russian revolution". Europe, he thought, would gain from large scale socialist planning.

The Italian leaders, Spinelli and Rossi, wanted a superstate, as they had argued from their prison island, Ventotene, and later in the war from Switzerland, certainly not small communities. The French diplomatically paid lip service to this approach, but really wanted an international organisation to reflect what they called "pre-existing social realities"; i.

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The French won. The second battle was in Rome in November With Spinelli and Rossi once again fully operational, the French lost to the Italians. With that they lost not only the argument, but also control of the UEF movement. The UEF was to be an influential pressure group, part of the background clamour, but neither it nor Spinelli were responsible for the first serious successes in the struggle to create a United States of Europe. Those successes lie elsewhere. As the nascent United States of Europe took off in the s and s so Spinelli's influence was to be eclipsed by Jean Monnet.

The two men were at loggerheads - both had big egos and there was no room for two.


Unfortunately for Spinelli, Monnet had the all-important American links plus the advantage of being a Frenchman and part of the critical Franco-German axis. Monnet deliberately ruled out individual membership of his Action Committee for the United States of Europe in order to keep Spinelli on the sidelines. But behind the scenes Spinelli was a constant critic of the slow pace of 'Europe'. Nearly every European proposal has had Spinelli's hand in it: quite literally, because Spinelli's amendments are scrawled on drafts over many years pushing for a superstate.

As Monnet's health declined and his influence began to fade, perhaps coincidentally Spinelli started to return to centre stage. Between and Spinelli was the European Commissioner responsible for industrial policy and then a member of the Italian Parliament representing the Communist PCI party.

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At the same time he was a Member of the European Parliament and was well known there as a Communist. He liked to think of himself as an independent one. Three years later he was duly elected to the European Parliament in the first elections. Spinelli was powerful, forceful but not subtle. After Monnet's death in Spinelli was really back in the limelight. It was Mrs Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, who inadvertently triggered the events which renewed his attempts to move ever more closely towards a United States of Europe.

In , Mrs Thatcher, had the temerity to challenge the Community and demand 'our money back'. The leaders of the other eight countries still had much to learn about Mrs Thatcher's tenacity and determination. They thought they could frustrate her and preserve Britain's enforced largesse. They failed, she won; though she had to fight again four years later, and won again. But in her victory left the Community in a state of what the federalists called 'a suspended crisis'. The United States of Europe had already been seriously knocked off course twice before, once by General de Gaulle and his Europe des Patries, and then again by the oil shocks and recession of the s.

Into the breech created by Mrs Thatcher stepped Spinelli; by then 73 years old and one of the few of the original "European" planners still alive. In July just after Mrs Thatcher had asked "for our money back", Spinelli and eight others founded the Crocodile Club. They named it after the restaurant where they met in Strasbourg. Spinelli and his Crocodile Movement aimed to make the European Parliament take on the job of drafting a new treaty for European Union - the next step beyond the Treaty of Rome.

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By that time the Treaty was already twenty-five years old. Like Jean Monnet, Spinelli believed that there was a need for a new treaty to push back the boundaries of the nation states even more.

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A year later he persuaded the European Parliament to adopt his proposal, and naturally enough he was the rapporteur for the new project. His proposals were based on an alliance between the Commission and the Parliament. Both wanted to increase their own power at the expense of the Council of Ministers and the nation states. They are natural allies. Spinelli wanted a Union which, as he said, "will have the sole power to act by its own decisions" and "the end of inter-governmental co-operation". He had been campaigning for that for forty years. Impatient with the long delay since , Spinelli wanted to create one state in a single leap.

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The inter-governmental European Council would become part of the union; the European parliament would stop being consultative and became a formal legislature; majority voting would replace unanimity - even agreement on the new treaty would be by majority voting - so Britain for one could be outvoted and still find herself signed up to it.

The Commission would become the only executive body; the powers of the Court of Justice would be strengthened, the Union's control would be extended to foreign policy and defence. No wonder Mrs Thatcher later said "No! Spinelli's way of keeping the national governments quiet was to be the principle of subsidiarity.

All decisions would be made at the lowest appropriate level of government. He said subsidiarity would help the "transition to a higher level of union". Yet Spinelli proposed subsidiarity only as a clever device, he never intended it to be a guiding principle of the European Union. Subsidiarity is part of the German constitution and German Basic Law states unambiguously in article 31 that "Federal law shall override Land law".

Therefore sovereignty lies with the Federal Government.