Just in time for the treaty’s 60th anniversary on 25 March this year, the German-Italian Centre for European Excellence Villa Vigoni and United Europe are launching a new Rome Manifesto. James Bartholomeusz
You might not think it from the grey suits and thick glasses, but the decade and a half after the Second World War was one of the most radical periods in European history. While eastern Europe fell under the shadow of Soviet dictatorship, both France and Germany were refounded as stable democratic republics.
As the US Marshall Plan stoked miraculous recovery across a war-torn continent, in 1950 the French foreign minister Robert Schuman made the famous Declaration that would lead to the integration of western Europe’s coal and steel industries. The crowning achievement of this era of international cooperation came in 1957, when six founding states came together to sign the Treaty of Rome.
Under the banner of the European Economic Community, Rome established the precursor to the EU institutions as we know them today. It is therefore fitting that, to coincide with the treaty’s 60th anniversary on 25 March this year, our friends at United Europe in cooperation with Villa Vigoni are launching a new Rome Manifesto in which a set of young thinkers will aim to “redefine Europe’s mission”.
Here at PDU, we welcome an injection of new ideas into the rather stale debate on the future of the EU. There has been much generalisation over the last few years about the need for a new narrative or common cultural identity, there is still a dearth of serious thinking about reforming Europe’s system of government. Europe’s has deep structural problems. Trying to find better ways of selling to the public some positive aspects of European integration won’t move us forward. Neither should we focus too much on cultural identity, which historically is only formed within a given political entity after its full political unification.
For this reason, we will be most attentive to the findings of the working group chaired by Professor Filippo Taddei, which is tasked with considering the best ways of reorganising the EU’s institutions and decision-making procedures.
Only from these firm foundations can a proper sense of shared identity and destiny begin to grow.
At a time when the EU’s internal problems are being compounded by Brexit and the new Trump administration, we desperately need to press ahead with a rethink of how Europe works. Our example should be the bravery and breadth of vision exhibited by the EU’s founding fathers. We await United Europe’s Rome Manifesto with keen interest and, especially in this anniversary year, we look forward to continuing the debate about the future of Europe.