Let´s debate about the shape and the content of European integration:
Last year, 2017, we celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, when six national States of Western Europe agreed to build up an institutional experiment of supranational integration. They wanted to show that Europe could begin a fresh start, reshaping their relations no longer in terms of mutually suspicious powers but as subjects of a common project of convivence. The experiment was thought of as eminently economic. The idea was to get a kind of Zollverein, of custom union, and a common market now freed from any discriminatory measure based on nationality. This project was incredibly successful. From the common market we got into the one single market. The number of member State multiplied. We got a European law through the case law of the European Court of Justice, which started to shape its jurisdiction as the one of a constitutional court. The Treaty provisions were declared supreme with regard to domestic law, even with regard to constitutional law and fundamental rights of member States, and dulcis in fundo, or in cauda venenum?, even with regard to international law.
An ambitious, proud, all eco passing jurisdiction made its appearance, thus changing the cards in the game tables of European legal doctrine. Finally we have the European Monetary Union, at least for the a core number of member States. All this developments, all this achievement, were escorted by a overoptimistic, evolutionary narrative, so much optimistic that the very finalite’ of the integration process seemed to be lost or perpetually moved forward. Now this evolution, and accompanying evolutionary narrative, are experiencing a serous crisis, a setback even. The Brexit is an epochal event that certifies this change in the direction of history. And the Greek crisis, one especially serious among several, mainly due to the global economic crisis of 2008, tends to make the landscape even more dramatic.
The “ever closer union” as integration engine and regulative idea has been stopped. No gas is left there. Especially, we have assisted a reform of European Union institutions after 2009, ESM, Six Packs, Two Packs, etc., that make the baroque building of the Union, ab unione condita ever affected by some democratic deficit, seem less and less democratic. Budget competences, to make an example, that are definitional of parliamentarism, are now given to supranational unaccountable agencies. Constitutionalism thus is reinterpreted as rule of law, and this as abiding by instructions or memoranda of understanding issued by technocratic agencies.
European citizens can hardly identify their destiny with the work done by these agencies. They do not understand. They thought Europe could give them a better life, but now their lives have been ruined at least in some case in the name of that same Europe. They thought to get more Welfare and social rights from Europe, and what they have is only more market and more capitalism. This, triumphant after 1989, and without any serious opponent left, seems even to fully unbind its western European links to some kind of social justice. The European Union seems to have made it possible for capitalism to take now a radical distance from democracy. Populism, whatever it might mean, seems to be the response.
Now, all this should motivate European intellectuals to revise the over positive narrative about European integration and pause and ask what is to be done, if we want to maintain on the one side the civilizing process introduced by the European integration and on the other side keep some control on our public life and our destiny as workers and citizens.
To do this, the conference intends to convene a selected group of scholars that have been protagonists because of their intelligence and research of the debate about the shape and the content of European integration.