The translation is based on the second extended edition published in March 2019 by Ledizioni, Milano
Antonio Padoa-Schioppa, Emeritus Professor at the University of Milan, taught History of Medieval and Modern Law, and worked on the Constitution of the European Union.
Recent publications include: A History of Law in Europe: From the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, Bologna 2016 (English edition: 2017); Verso la federazione europea? Tappe e svolte di un lungo cammino, Bologna 2014.
It is not easy to understand what the European Union is and what it may become. It is a complex, multi-faceted edifice, the result of the recent and past history of Europe, with all its lights and shadows, tragedies and successes. This Conversation aims to shine a light on many aspects of the European creation and to explain some of the multiple connections between them.
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Preface to the English language edition
In this presentation of 'Why Europe?', I would first of all like to thank Anne Parry and her collaborators who have generously translated the book.
The European elections, which provided the starting point for the book, are behind us. But I believe these pages are still relevant to our present times, because the reasons in favour of the European project, which are at the heart of the book, are no less true now than before. In fact I consider them to be even more important now.
The European elections in May 2019 were a great victory for Europe. Those who believed that the sovereignist wave would submerge, or at least scale back the European project – and there were many of them in many countries - were clearly proved wrong. The citizens of Europe voted in favour of European unity by a majority of three quarters, which no national political group can equal. This result had a surprising effect in Italy too, where sovereignist tendencies are very strong. Choices on the question of Europe underlie the current crisis of the government which has only been in power for a year, and the recent political upheaval. However, the risks for the future have not been overcome, so we have chosen to keep the pages dedicated to the Italian question.
The effects of the European elections are already being seen. The future President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced in her inaugural speech a highly ambitious political programme for the Union – the environment, social measures, a stronger role of the European Parliament, taxes on carbon emission, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, overcoming the power of veto and other matters – which are clearly based on the result of the vote, as the Treaties state.
Now we are entering a season which may be decisive for the Union, a new phase in which the recently-elected European Parliament will be able to play a key role in shaping and carrying forward the policies which the citizens of Europe need; policies which are in many ways of concern and interest not only to Europeans but also to the citizens of other states on our planet, because they are of a global dimension.
Finally, the dramatic events in Britain, which for the first time in centuries are threatening the unity and even the dissolution of the United Kingdom, dismay many Europeans who have always admired and loved the British Isles. Issues related to Brexit show that choosing Europe is essential for the British people too, and demonstrate how dangerous it is to leave an uncontrolled space open to irrational impulses and false information which preceded the referendum in 2016.
APS, September 2019
Televised debates, the press and messages sent via the Internet almost always give a distorted picture of what the European Union is today and what it could be in the future.
Numerous praiseworthy and informative books are published every year on the subject of Europe; these are often aimed at a limited number of specialist readers. There are few texts written for non-specialists, particularly for young readers, which truly give the idea of the magnificence of the European Union. In this book the EU is presented as a majestic but unfinished and therefore precarious cathedral. The author represents the multiple facets of European integration in the form of an exchange of questions and answers with a young voter who is going to take part in elections for the European Parliament for the first time in 2019. The decisive role these elections will have for the future of the Union is by now clear to all.
This book is meant to be read through, either from beginning to end or chapter by chapter, rather than as a reference work. It may be used in classrooms to stimulate discussion. The selective bibliography and the links to websites may be useful for those who would like to learn more about the vast number of interdisciplinary subjects underlying the European project, including economics, law, political science and history.
Some of the issues considered in the book are the problems and challenges of today’s world (including the dangerous situation in Italy), the great conquests of the European Union and the institutions that have made these possible, the steps still to be taken, and the risks and opportunities beyond the borders of Europe. Any attempt at an overview should cover at least three main areas: an understanding of what Europe has built up over three quarters of a century, how much more needs to be done to complete the great aim of union, and the concrete risk of regression.
I have talked about Europe for many years with young and older people, with students and colleagues, as well as with friends, and I am grateful to them all. I discussed the Conversation with Marco Aliano, who is now a philosophy student in Venice. Marco has agreed to be represented in conversation with me, the elderly APS and has contributed with his own questions and comments. Many friends (including in particular Anna Tempia) kindly read parts of, or the whole Conversation and provided useful suggestions and comments. The author alone is responsible for any remaining shortcomings or errors.
The text is available as an e-book. It can also be found on websites that wish to include it among their links and in particular on this site set up by Andrea Guadagni, who I thank for his invaluable support for the project.
Anne Parry and her team of collaborators have translated the Conversation into English in record time. My sincere thanks to them all.
The Conversation has been translated into English by volunteers from British in Italy, an association representing British citizens living in Italy who have been affected in many ways by the consequences of Brexit (although at the time of writing we are still hopeful that it may never happen). We are grateful to Professor Padoa Schioppa for allowing us to translate the book, which will be published and available free of charge so that people voting in the 2019 elections can be better informed of the value of the EU. We hope the book will be read by all those who care about the future of Europe, which is where we have made our lives, set up businesses, worked in companies, schools and universities, and have brought up our children as British, Italian and European citizens of the world.
The translation of the book is dedicated to Diana and all the other children whose future will depend on us working together in Europe, in particular to limit the effects of climate change and other disasters which can only be dealt with by a united European Union.
Translators: Anne Parry, Jemma Prior, Krystyna Biskupski, Niki Scavolo, Liz Gregson, Chris Oldham, Christina Cattaneo, Myriana Supyk, Zoe Adams Green, Katy Wallis, Christine Pennison, Henry Braddon.
Revisers and Consultants: Dennis Drennan, Liz Parry.
Proof readers: Katy Wallis, Daisy Warner, Emma Marlow, Amy Fitzgerald, Emma Dovey, Georgia Leverett, Henry Braddon and the team from the University of Bath.
Milan, 20 May 2019.
I. Risks and opportunities
- First things first
- Some objections
- No to Europe, to the euro, to migrants? Yes to the Nation
- What has the European Union given us?
- Risks for Italy, risks for Europe
- The European Parliament, a crucial deadline in 2019
II. The great European crisis
- The economic crisis and Europe
- The immigration crisis and Europe
- Defence and security
III. The structures, politics and history of the Union
- European Union institutions, laws, decisions, positions and procedures
- European Union policies
- A brief history of the Union, 1948-2017
IV. The Future of the Union
- A Europe of concentric circles
- Extent of the challenge and levels of government
- The unfinished cathedral
V. Europe’s lights and shadows
- Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, sovereignty, democracy, principle of subsidiarity
- Nations, regions, Europe: a plurality of identities and the European identity
- Religious and ethnic pluralism
- Treasures of European civilisation
- Responsibilities, errors and horrors of European history
- Original characteristics of European civilisation
VI Tomorrow’s world
- Federal Europe: a global project
- Politics, young people and education
EU and related websites