Artiero Spinelli

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A minigraph on

Altiero Spinelli

Eminence Grise of the European Union

(Note: as with the other ‘minigraphs’ on this site, a piece of text in coloured or italic font indicates that it was found only in one of the accounts consulted. The number in brackets indicates which of the numbered accounts in the Bibliography said it. Text in Black Bold Times New Roman was corroborated by at least two sources. Corroboration is an important principle in establishing historical truth)

Table of Contents

Early Career 3

And Mussolini 3

Imprisonment 4

Evolution of his views in prison 5

Relationship with Communist Party 6

Rejection of Nation States 6

The Ventotene Manifesto 1941 8

Dissemination of the Manifesto 8

Release 1943-7 9

European Federalist Movement founded 9

Germans seize North Italy 11

Operating in Switzerland 11

Responses from Resistance Movements 13

Post D-Day 13

Altieri and Ursula 14

Post-War 1945-54 14

Italian Constitution 14

Brugmans 15

The International stage 1947-52 16

Montreux Conference August 1947 16

Rome Conference November 1948 16

The European Coal and Steel Community 17

Prioritising a Constitution 17

A European Army controlled by a European Parliament 18

The ‘ad hoc’ Assembly 1952-3 18

1954-60 Campaigning against Nation States 18

The 1960s 19

European Commissioner 1970-76 19

Member of the European Parliament 1976-86 20

By co-option, 1976-9 20

By direct election, 1979 20

Spinelli and Thatcher 20

The Crocodile Club 21

Second Term 1984-6 21

The Draft Treaty, 1984 22

The Single European Act, 1986 23

Illness and Death 24

Conflicting Views on Spinelli’s Achievement. 25

Spinelli Right and Effective 25

Spinelli Right but Ineffective 26

Spinelli Wrong but effective 27

Spinelli Wrong and Ineffective 28

Appendix I: the Ventotene Manifesto 28

Bibliography 30

Bibliographical notes 30

Early Career

Altiero (1,2) [OR] Artiero (3) Spinelli was born of socialist parents, (9,12)on 31st August 1907 (1,2) in Rome. (2,4) two years after Lenin’s first and abortive coup in St Petersburg. (14) He was an Italian (1,7) citizen (7) a Communist politician, (1,7) political theorist, (1,8) longtime campaigner for European unity (2,8) and European federalist. (1,2) He spent his early years in Brazil, where his father was the Italian Vice-Consul. (10) In his youth he was immersed very early in politics and revolutionary ideal, (9,14)and attracted to the ideas of Lenin and of Trotsky. (14) He had a ‘not inconsiderable ego’. (14) In Italy, federal ideas have a long pedigree dating back to the days of the Risorgimento and earlier to Guiseppe Mazzini and Carlo Cattaneo. (14) During the First World War various Italian Socialists advocated European federation. (14) In 1916 the revolutionary Socialist, Guiseppe Modigliani, wrote in the journal Avanti! that a United States of Europe would be the inescapable result of economic progress breaking down national boundaries, and forcing the creation of new institutions which the Socialists could take over. (14)

And Mussolini

Benito Mussolini and his blackshirted Fascists took power in Italy in October 1922. (14) On returning home Spinelli joined the Italian Communist Party at the (9,10) very early (12) age of 17 in 1924, (9,10) the year of the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, with Fascism now in power (10) [OR] before Benito Mussolini took over the whole Italian society. (9,14)By 1926 Mussolini was absolute dictator of Italy. (14) The opposition, the Anti-Fasciti, was made up of several parties which formed and reformed. (14) Those who resisted had to do so mainly from abroad, usually in France; and to much less effect from North and South America. (14) The Communists were in the thick of resisting Mussolini (14) and were forced underground. (10) Spinelli (8,12) and others like him (14) participated in (8,12)the clandestine struggle against fascism (8,10) as a radical journalist (7,13)[OR] trained juror. (12) Resistance was a dangerous business: those who were too vocal found themselves in front of Mussolini’s dreaded Special Tribunal and spent years in prison. (14) With the rise of Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party1, Spinelli was arrested (2,7) on 6th April 1928 in a series of crack-downs on the leaders of the Communist Partito Communista Italiano (PCI). (14) He was convicted by Mussolini’s Fascist Special Tribunal (12,14) part of the Mussolini regime (2,9) in Milan in June (10) 1926 (12) [OR] 1927 (2,7) as a result of his activities (12) [OR] when the Fascists introduced legislation outlawing political opponents. (10,12), He was convicted and sentenced to 16 years (9,10) and eight months (10,12) in prison. (9,10)


Figure 1 In Prison

H e spent ten years in prison and six in confinement. (8,12) After a decade, (10) during the war2 (7,9) [OR] in 1937 he was transferred to Rome and was led to believe he would be released, only to be told (10) he was instead being transferred to confinement status, (8,10) first on the island of Ponza, later on (10) Santo Stefano1 [OR] Ventotene3, (8,9) the “confino” island, (13) a small (10,11) volcanic (11) island (10,11) in Lazio (13) [OR] in the Gulf of Gaeta (7,14) in the Tyrrhenian Sea, one of an archipelago known as the Pontine Islands, midway between Ponza and Ischia, off the coast of Naples (10,11) [OR] between Rome and Naples. (11,14) Ventotene had first been used as a prison during the Roman Empire, and Mussolini chose it to incarcerate Italian antifascists, many of who were communist intellectuals. (11) The prison island of Ventotene became the enforced headquarters of the PCI underground with Communists outnumbering all the other groups. (14) It was a revolutionary hothouse. (14) On the prison island, Spinelli came under the influence of two men: his fellow prisoner Professor Ernesto Rossi and, through his writings, Rossi’s friend, Professor Luigi Einaudi. (14) Immediately after the First World War, Professor Einaudi, a liberal economist, wrote articles and letters to newspapers against national sovereignty. (14) Using the pen name “Junius” in the Corriere della Sera he criticised the plan for the League of Nations because it left the sovereignty of states intact. (14) He wanted a Europe based either on the USA or on the English union with Scotland: with the power to tax, one army, and control over customs, postal communications and the railways. (14) He inspired others who were also writing along similar lines, such as Giovanni Agnelli (of Fiat) and Attilio Cabiati. (14) With Spinelli on Ventotene were (7,11) some eight hundred (7,13)[OR] about 1,000 (14) political opponents of the regime, (7,11)including Eugenio Colorni, (6,11) Sandro Pertini, Ernesto Rossi and Ursula Hirschmann (11) [OR] Ursula was not held in confinement, and could travel back to the mainland. (6) Ventotene was linked to the mainland by a supply boat, which went back and forth twice a week enabling Professor Einaudi to send federalist reading material to his friend Rossi. (14) Between the wars European federation was part of the platform of the Giustizia e Liberta, a party formed in 1929 and inspired by the firebrand Socialist Emilio Lussu and by Carlo Rosselli. (14) 7 The “Giellisti”, a coalition of Socialists and Liberals, wanted agrarian reform, co-operatives, Socialist public utilities and progressive income tax. (14) Despite the personal dangers the Giellisti attracted increasing numbers of supporters to oppose Mussolini. (14) By 1933 the Giellisti had 800 followers in Rome and around 3,000 in the central and southern provinces. (14) In May 1931 Mussolini’s Special Tribunal sentenced the Giellisti leader in Milan, Ernesto Rossi, together with his colleague Riccardo Bauer, to twenty years in prison and so smashed the Milan branch. (14) Rossi had been operating in a cloak and dagger way for some years: once he had had to flee to France for four months when he was caught smuggling propaganda across the border into Italy. (14) He too was sent to Ventotene. (14) More detainees arrived after the fall of Paris in June 1940, when many of those who had been refugees there, some for ten years or more, were shipped back to Mussolini and to prison. (14) Throughout all of this time Spinelli refused to renounce his ideals and repent, even though this would have resulted in a pardon. (12)

Evolution of his views in prison

Isolation determined his intellectual path. (9) Whilst in prison he studied (8,12)the writings of (8,12) Anglo-Saxon (8,14) federalists. (8,12) Among the strongest written influences on Spinelli and his friends, courtesy of Professor Einaudi, were the American eighteenth century revolutionaries Hamilton, Jay and Madison. (14) Among the contemporary writers were Sir Walter (later Lord) Layton of The Economist, American Clarence Streit, Sir William (later Lord) Beveridge and Barbara Wootton (later a Professor, a Baroness and a deputy speaker in the House of Lords). (14) All four were advocates of European federation. (14) In Union Now, published in 1939, Clarence Streit had argued for a federation of Britain and America as the nucleus of fifteen democratic countries. (14) Its publication caused a considerable stir at the time. (14) Unlike the others, Layton believed a federation was right for Europe but not for Britain. (14) From 1922 to 1938 Layton was particularly influential as editor of The Economist and was later its chairman. (14) Years later, in a 1957 speech, Spinelli acknowledged the importance of the Anglo-American literature he had received on Ventotene. (14) He said he had whiled away some of his time by translating Professor Harold Robbins’ The Economic Causes of War into Italian. (14) He commented that the British pre-war literature was first class and “even superior to the average Continental literature… The Italian movement has absorbed much from the British”. (14) For a man of his not inconsiderable ego that was praise indeed. (14) The leaders of the federalist prisoners were Spinelli, Rossi (who by that time had broken with his Giellisti colleagues), Eugenio Colorni (head of the Socialist Party until his arrest in 1938), Enrico Giussani, Dino Roberto and Giorgio Braccialarghe. (14) Spinelli became a passionate advocate of supranational integration (12) [OR] federalism. (8)

Relationship with Communist Party

With time to think (14) Spinelli criticised some of the Communist Party’s political positions, (9,12) rejecting the Soviet dictatorship. (9) [OR] He was a lifelong Communist (10)[OR] He broke with Stalinism in 1937. (14) [OR] He was excluded from the communist party in 1937 (9,13) as a Trotskyite. (13) [OR] Hetemporarily (9) abandoned communism during the war (8,9) It was during the period that he was held captive on the small island of Ventotene that his Federalist ideas began to take shape. (12) His disillusionment with the Party and the insights he had gained during his studies led to him abandoning the Communists and joining the Federalist cause. (12) It was here during his confinement (8,9) in 1941 that the dream of a united Europe began. (11)

Rejection of Nation States

Spinelli strongly believed that the days of national sovereignty were dead. (11,14) Having grown up under fascism, the detainees on Ventotene believed that while the existence of the nation state signified great progress, giving people an identity, culture and language, sovereignty invariably resulted in political and economic power of the elite over the people. (11) They had witnessed how totalitarian regimes had transformed nation states into military powers whose aim was to dominate others seen as a threat. (11) The loss of civil liberties enabled nations to become machines of war and peacetime was simply an opportunity to prepare for future armed conflicts. (11) He became increasingly convinced that a European-wide movement towards federalism would help to counteract the destructive force of nationalism. (8,12) He, Colorni and Rossi agreed that if the forces of Fascism in Italy and Germany were defeated, the only way to avoid future European wars was for the sovereign nations of the continent to join together in a federation of states, (10) a new type of political organisation, immune to national fetishes and the limitations of traditional ideologies. (8) Pursuing Lenin’s approach, Spinelli was sure that the defeat of Germany would be followed by a period of chaos when his revolution could take hold, when “the fallen governments lie broken, during which the popular masses anxiously await a new message and are, meanwhile, like molten matter, burning, susceptible of being poured into new moulds, capable of welcoming the guidance of serious internationalists…” (14) He went on “The collapse of the majority of the states of the continent under the German steam-roller has already placed the destinies of the European populations on common ground: either all together they will submit to Hitler’s dominion, or all together they will enter a revolutionary crisis after his fall.” (14) Circumstances, he wrote, were “now favourable to our ideal.” (14) Spinelli thought that ending the nation states of Europe would have other benefits. (14) For one, the German problem would be solved. (14) “The multiple problems which poison international life on the continent have proved to be insoluble: tracing boundaries through areas inhabited by mixed populations, defence of minorities, seaports for landlocked countries, the Balkan question, the Irish problem, and so on. (14) All matters which should find easy solutions in the European federation.” (14) All the main functions of a state were to be centralised with just a little freedom left for the old nation states. (14) The new Europe would “have at its disposal a European armed service instead of national armies; to break decisively economic autarchies, the backbone of totalitarian regimes;… sufficient means to see that its deliberations for the maintenance of common order are executed in the single federal states, while each state will retain the autonomy it needs for a plastic articulation and development of political life according to the particular characteristics of its people.” (14) He emphasised the need for an educational system to train men of initiative and to choose the right men now. (14) That was more important than the new institutions. (14) Fellow prisoner, Professor Rossi, was afraid that, if they waited until the war was over for Spinelli’s “European consciousness” to appear of its own accord, they would miss the boat. (14) In the Risorgimento, small elites had successfully unified Italy. (14) So Rossi thought they should pressurise the victorious countries using the Risorgimento’s technique to achieve a united Europe. (14)

The Ventotene Manifesto 1941

Among the other prisoners and friends of Eugenio Colorni on Ventotene were Ernesto Rossi and (6,8) Spinelli. (1,6) Inspired by the federalist writers’ thoughts and ideas (12) They all began to work on a political manifesto, (11,14) though the dominant hand was that of Spinelli. (14) In June (7,13) 1941, (6,7) well before the outcome of the war was safely predictable (13) Spinelli and Rossi (1,6)[OR] Colorni (13) co-authored the famous Ventotene Manifesto (1,6) “for a free and united Europe (9,11) — a draft manifesto” (11,13) in support of a new European federalist movement. (7,12) For the content of the manifesto See Appendix Not surprisingly, given Spinelli’s background, it reads like a Communist tract: “A free and united Europe … will immediately revive in full the historical process of the struggle against social inequalities and privileges. All the old conservative structures which hindered this process will have collapsed or will be in a state of collapse… In order to respond to our needs, the European revolution must be socialist…” Spinelli’s approach to the abolition of private property was flexible. He deplored the “doctrinaire principle that the private ownership of the material means of production must, as a general rule, be abolished” as in Stalin’s Russia where “the entire population was subject to a restricted cell of bureaucrats who ran the economy…” Instead “the forces of progress must be extolled and extended … at the same time… the barriers which guided these forces … must be strengthened and perfected. Private property must be abolished, limited, corrected or extended: instance by instance, not dogmatically according to principle.”

Dissemination of the Manifesto

Because of a need for secrecy and a lack of proper materials at the time,(7) the Manifesto was written on cigarette papers and concealed in the false bottom of a tin box. (7,14)Ursula Colorni4 (6,13) a German anti-fascist activist and fellow advocate of European federalism (13) had followed her husband Eugenio to Ventotene, but as she was not herself held in confinement, she could travel back to the mainland. (6) Occasionally underground tracts could be smuggled out. (14) In July 1941 (15) she (6,13) [OR] Rossi’s wife, Ada, (14) managed to bring the text of the manifesto to the mainland (6,13) on the supply boat. (14) and took part in its (6) secret (11) dissemination (6,11) through the Italian Resistance. (7,11) It puts forward proposals for creating a European federation of states, the primary aim of which was to tie European countries so closely together that they would no longer be able to go to war with one another. (7) The ideological underpinnings for a united Europe can thus be traced to hostility to nationalism. (7) Later, widely known as the Ventotene Manifesto, it had an extraordinary impact, inspiring those who drafted the policies of the re-emerging Italian parties. (14) The Manifesto put forward proposals for creating a European federation of states, the primary aim of which was to tie European countries so closely together that they would no longer be able to go to war with one another. (13) As in many European left-wing political circles, this sort of move towards federalist ideas was argued as a reaction to the destructive excesses of nationalism. (13) The Manifesto has since been published in Italian and a number of other languages. (7) In Montevideo in August 1942, Italian refugees from Mussolini organised a Pan-American Congress to endorse European Federation. (14) The idea was to put pressure on the Mazzini Society of the USA (a broad-based propaganda organisation to stir up anti-Fascist feeling) and on the American State Department to accept the concept of European federalism as the ultimate post-war goal. (14) The refugees’ efforts failed because the State Department took the view that the Society’s views were not part of the Italian mainstream in Italy itself. (14) Spinelli was also sceptical of the Mazzini’s Society’s aims, which he though were too vague to be of any practical significance. (14) He believed that the USA would become a supporter of European Federation: therefore European Federation would be a key part of the post-war world. (14)

Release 1943-7

In 1943 (10,11) Mussolini was expelled by the Fascist Grand Council and arrested on the orders of the king, Victor Emmanuel III. (10) When Ventotene was liberated by the US, (11) Spinelli was released after sixteen years in Fascists prisons (2,4) [OR] ten years in prison and a further six in confinement (7) in August 1943, (2,4) a month after Mussolini was overthrown. (14)

European Federalist Movement founded

Even as the Allies were advancing in the wake of their successful landings in Sicily, (14) as soon as they were able to leave their internment camp, (10,13) on 27th and 28th (6,8) August 1943, (6,7) Spinelli, Hirschmann (4,6) Rossi, (10) Colorni (13) and some 20 others (10) were already travelling north to Milan. (14) There Professor Silvio Trentin, a Giellisti law scholar from Venetia, had a cover operation – a bookshop – waiting for them. (14) Since 1925 Professor Trentin had been in exile in Paris with the Italian Socialist party. (14) When the Germans marched into Paris, he fled south to Toulouse. (14) Using a bookshop as cover, he became the focal point for Italian and Spanish Republican exiles. (14) So, in a repeat operation behind the facade of Trentin’s Milanese bookshop, Spinelli and friends started to reorganize. (14) Within a few days of their arrival in Milan they secretly held the first meeting of what would become the influential Movimento Federalista Europeo, (14) thus participating in the foundation of the European Federalist Movement (4,6) at a secret meeting (10,13) in Milan. (4,6) The movement adopted the Ventotene Manifesto as its programme. (7,10) The Manifesto was widely circulated in other resistance movements towards the end of the war. (13) Resistance leaders from several countries met clandestinely in Geneva in 1944, a meeting attended by Spinelli. (13) Between fifteen and twenty former prisoners from the island of Ventotene met in the home of Mario Alberto Rollier. (14) Rossi and Spinelli were the joint secretaries of the new movement. (14) They produced a six point declaration based on the Ventotene Manifesto. (14) The European Federalist Movement group expected that there would be bloody revolution as the war came to an end, just as had happened at the end of the First World War when the Russian revolution spread to parts of Germany. (14) They hoped to be able to take advantage of the upheaval to create a federal Europe in which all the citizens of Europe would control the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. (14) Milan became the publishing centre for the few federalists left in Italy. (14) Labouring under great difficulty, the European Federalist Movement produced eight clandestine issues of its newspaper L’Unita Europea. (14) It was first edited by Colorni, then by Rollier, and stencilled copies were circulated. (14) Four of the issues included reprinted articles by Sir Walter Layton, Lord Beveridge and Barbara Wootton. (14) They also reported on Allied policy for post-war planning, analysed Italian foreign policy and discussed federalism. (14) The European Federalist Movement was deliberately a movement, not a party. (14) Guglielmo wrote in L’Unita Europea, “federalism in its present period of germination … merits the title of a political movement not a party” and thus “allows its members a certain breadth and variety of views in regard to social ideologies and government programmes… It aims to create an organization of its own, capable of spreading the federalist idea and of acting resolutely in a revolutionary sense in the context of today’s underground political life. (14) Tomorrow, when politics become legal again, it intends to lose no opportunity of operating on the level of political parties.” (14)

Germans seize North Italy

On 8th September 1943, the Germans seized the Po valley and life in the occupied North became more hazardous. (14) Thousands of Italians fled across the border to Switzerland and joined the few already sheltering there: Spinelli, Rossi, Giussani and Usellini joined them. (14) From the autumn of 1943 he concentrated not on defeating the Germans, in which he had never had much interest, but rather on creating a United States of Europe in the post-war world. (14) Unlike some of their colleagues, they believed that working for a federal Europe was more important than remaining in Italy to fight the Nazis. (14) Rossi had an excuse because he had been disabled in the Great War. (14) Spinelli had none. (14) Spinelli was briefly in touch with the chief Special Operations Executive representative in Switzerland, Jock McCaffery. (14)

Operating in Switzerland

The Italians needed a safe house from which to conduct their illegal activities. (14) Within a few weeks of their arrival in Switzerland, ‘t Hooft was introduced to them by Jean-Marie Soutou, who had represented the French underground newspaper Temoignage Chretien in Geneva since the spring of 1943 and was an agent of the Mouvements Unis de Resistance. (14) With the constant problem that Swiss neutrality had to be respected, and the fear of the dire results if it was not, Spinelli’s meetings had to be held in secret. (14) They were reported in the press in vague terms as international meetings of resistance leaders ‘somewhere in occupied Europe’, which was stretching the truth somewhat – some were, some not. (14) Because travel in occupied Europe was hazardous the meetings took some months to set up. (14) Not all those invited could come. (14) Between March and June 1944 five meetings were held in ‘t Hooft’s house. (14) No full record of those attending was kept, but there were about fifteen people. (14) The Italians were represented by Spinelli, Rossi and Professor Egidio Reale of the Italian Republican Party. (14) Representing France were Jean-Marie Soutou, Laloy, the official representative in Geneva of the French National Committee in Algiers, and Francois Bondy, born in Austro-Hungary later a Swiss national, who maintained contact with French Socialist resistance groups. (14) From Germany came Hanna Bertholet of the Militant Socialist International (ISK), linked with the German trade unions and in touch with German resistance groups, and Hilda Monte9, also a member of the ISK from Germany with links to the remnants of German resistance. (14) ‘T Hooft represented the Dutch resistance. (14) The names of a Yugoslav from Tito’s movement, a Pole, a Czech, a Norwegian and a Dane are not known. (14) 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. (14) Hilda Monte was later shot at the border when she tried illegally to cross back to Switzerland from Germany. (14) 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. (14) The Swiss contingent sent back many articles to Colorni and his secret printer in Milan. (14) Enrichetta Ritter braved the dangers of crossing the frontier into German-held Italy. (14) Under the pen name ‘Thelos’, Rossi wrote a pamphlet called L’Europe de Demain, and Colorni managed to print a staggering 10,000 copies. (14) In May 1944 they were smuggled into occupied France. (14) The following year the pamphlet was reprinted by the Geneva Centre d’Action together with other federalist articles. (14) Geneva was not only safe but from there it was also possible for Spinelli and friends to contact other national groups operating within resistance movements round Europe. (14) They quickly identified them and worked hard to co-ordinate their activities and programmes. (14) Help also came from an unexpected quarter, the Dutch Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, the Rev. Dr Willem Visser ‘t Hooft. (14) The French and the Italians wanted to go much further than the others and curtail national sovereignty. (14) That was to be the forerunner of many later battles. (14) The participants signed the International Federalists’ Declaration, which was edited by the Italians and based on the Ventotene Manifesto. (14) They wanted “… to go beyond the dogma of the absolute sovereignty of the state and unite in a single federal organisation. (14) 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. (14) 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.” (14) 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.” (14) The Federal Union must not prejudice the right of each … member country to solve its own special problems according to its own ethnic and cultural characteristics. (14) But … states must irrevocably surrender to the Federation those aspects of their sovereignty that deal with the defence, relations with states outside the Federal Union and international trade and communications.” (14) They called for a government responsible to the people, one army responsible to the supra-government excluding all other armies, and a supreme tribunal. (14) Finally they wanted a permanent headquarters from which to build the Federal Union. (14) Secretly, the Declaration was sent from Switzerland to all occupied countries in Europe and to Britain. (14)

Responses from Resistance Movements

Reaction was mixed. (14) In Britain the Socialist Vanguard Group10 was enthusiastic. (14) 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 1945 that there should be a world organisation combined with regions. (14) 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.” (14) Some French were positive: in Lyons in June 1944, the CFFE (Comité Francais pour la Fédération Européenne) newly created by some of the resistance movements, agreed a similar declaration. (14) Only four of the Dutch resistance groups replied: they had more pressing engagements. (14) One said, “this may seem surprising in Switzerland, but it is understandable to anyone who knows and experiences conditions here. (14) 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 500 a month – and cannot be expected to find time or opportunity to consider such international questions with the necessary calm and deliberation.” (14)

Post D-Day

After the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944, 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. (14) In the late summer of 1944 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. (14) Ursula Hirschmann’s husband Eugenio Colorni (6,11) had converted to federalism on Ventotene. (14) He escaped from Ventotene in 1943 (6) and became the first clandestine editor of L’Unita Europea. (14) He published the Ventotene Manifesto and promoted it widely. (14) He was active in rebuilding the Socialist Party in Rome. (14) In August 1943, 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. (14) In May (6,14) 1944 (6,11) he was murdered by the Fasciti, (14) just before the liberation of Rome. (11)

Altieri and Ursula

Spinelli and Hirschmann went to Rome, (6) [OR] fled (2) to Switzerland, (2,6) where he became (1,2) a (1) [OR] the (2) leader of the European Federalist Movement. (1,2) Spinelli and Hirschmann settled in Rome after the war (6) and in 1945 (13) Altiero Spinelli became Ursula’s second husband. (6,13) After the war they spent the rest of their lives together. (11) They had three daughters: Diana, Barbara, and Sara Spinelli. (6,13) Ursula already had another three daughters (Silvia, Renata and Eva) from her first husband Eugenio Colorni. (13) Altiero’s stepdaughter Eva Colorni was married to Indian economist Amartya Sen. (13)

Post-War 1945-54

Italian Constitution

Pertini, Rossi and Spinelli all survived the war and continued their political careers. (11) Pertini went on to become president of Italy, while Rossi and (11) Spinelli were outspoken advocates for the European Federalist Movement, (9,11) which he and his former fellow prisoners had begun in the Milanese bookshop in 1943, and of which Spinelli now became the head. (14) Until 1948 he 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. (14) Because he had been in prison during his twenties and most of his thirties he was even more single-minded than most wartime resistance members. (14) In December 1945 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 in the following form: “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”. (14) Spinelli played a vanguard role in the early episodes of European integration. (13) The influence of the European Federalist Movement was to be astounding: all the post-war Italian parties, except the Communist PCI, included federalism in their programmes. (14) By 1947 it had 15,000 members, mainly in the North where Spinelli was operating. (14) The Movement persuaded all the Italian parties, except the Communist PCI, to include federalism in their programmes. (14) 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). (14) By mid-1947 that had 150,000 members, mainly in France and Italy. (14)


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. (14) Brugmans wanted to make Europe a third force between “totalitarian socialism” and “anarchic capitalism”, between the USSR and the USA. (14) He supported “the great Russian revolution”. (14) Europe, he thought, would gain from large scale socialist planning. (14) The UEF’s intellectual roots went straight back to the French revolution via the Paris Commune of 1871. (14) Professor Einaudi, whose smuggled works had inspired Spinelli on Ventotene, returned from his Swiss exile and in 1946 and 1947 was a member of the Constituent Assembly. (14) He was a member of the first Cabinet of De Gaspari, a fellow federalist and a Christian Democrat. (14) After the peace treaty was ratified on 29th July 1947, Einaudi said, “the next goal is the United States of Europe”. (14) In 1947 this supranational clause (Italy being prepared to hand over sovereignty to an E.U.) was made part of the new constitution of the Italian Republic. (14) 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.” (14) It was an outstanding success for Spinelli, who was to remain a leading campaigner for the United States of Europe for the next forty years. (14) Many of Spinelli and Rossi’s proposals were implemented in the years that followed the war, which saw democracy and peace as well as major political and social reforms spread across the European continent. (11) [OR] ‘The European Federalist Movement did not achieve much until after June 1948, when its most powerful leader, Spinelli, and his friend Rossi returned to international politics’. (14) The College of Bruges was founded to recruit people to push the European ideal forward. (14) In a second paper, The United States of Europe, Spinelli recommended, “set[ting] up a few simple federal institutions, which must be solid, irrevocable [a word we have heard many times since] and easily understood. (14) It will not be necessary to trouble much with individual national problems. (14) The federation would provide the necessary internal order to which progressive forces would naturally adjust and from which they would derive their future character.” (14)

The International stage 1947-52

Montreux Conference August 1947

From 1947 on Spinelli involved himself in the structuring of European federalism. (9) There was a battle royal between the French and Italians for control of the UEF, (14) which Sp[ine;;ih co-founded the Union of European Federalists, which, along with the (9) European Federalist Movement (EFM) (4,6) was at the source of European federalist activism even today. (9) 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. (14) 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.e. representatives from every walk and class of life based on the philosophy of Proudhon and the 1871 Paris Commune. (14) The first battle was at the UEF Montreux conference in August (9,14) 1947. (14) The French won. (14)

Rome Conference November 1948

The second battle was in Rome in (14) November 1948. (9,14) With Spinelli and Rossi once again fully operational, the French lost to the Italians. (14) With that they lost not only the argument, but also control of the UEF movement. (14) 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. (14) As the nascent United States of Europe took off in the 1950s and 1960s so Spinelli’s influence was to be eclipsed by Jean Monnet. (14) The two men were at loggerheads – both had big egos and there was no room for two. (14) 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. (14) Monnet deliberately ruled out individual membership of his Action Committee for the United States of Europe in order to keep Spinelli on the sidelines. (14) But behind the scenes Spinelli was a constant critic of the slow pace of ‘Europe’. (14) 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. (14)

From 1947 to 1963, he was the secretary of the Italian Federalist Movement (2) and established it in Italy. (12) From 1948 to 1955 the influence of Einaudi was paramount as he became the President of the Italian Republic. (14) Spinelli’s third paper stressed that a European federation, unlike the bureaucracy of Stalin’s USSR, would have the fundamental principles of “federation, socialisation of monopolies and redistribution of wealth.” (14) He criticised the small steps approach and the dominance of intergovernmentalism, feeling even that the chance to unite Europe had been missed as sovereign states were re-established without any common bond other than the functionalist OEEC and the largely symbolic Council of Europe. (13) Even the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was felt to be too sectoral. (13)

The European Coal and Steel Community

In his role as advisor to personalities such as De Gasperi, Spaak and Monnet, Spinelli worked for European unification and further integration. (12) He is referred to as one of the founding fathers of the European Union (1,7) his strong influence on the first few decades of post-World War II European integration (7) coming from his part in writing the Ventotene Manifesto. (1) He was a consistent and devoted champion of the cause of a united Europe. (1,4) Throughout the 40s and 50s, the EFM was in the vanguard of the drive for European integration. (10,12)

Prioritising a Constitution

He criticised the lack of progress in attempts to achieve European integration. (12) He believed that intergovernmental cooperation with full national sovereignty in organisations like the OECD and the Council of Europe was not sufficient. (12) He rejected the European Steel and Coal Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), which were too technocratic for him. (9) He therefore took a different line from (9,14) Robert Schuman or (9) Jean Monet (9) [OR] Monnet (14) while these two other “founding fathers” bet on a pragmatic and technocratic method, Altiero Spinelli was convinced that a federal Europe had to be built from a convention committing in writing a European Constitution: a sort of “United States of Europe” in which the citizens would fully take part in European integration. (9) The construction of a democratic Europe in which the citizens had a first-class role was the focus of Altiero Spinelli. (9) The campaigning of Spinelli, (8) Alcide De Gasperi (7) and the European Federalist Movement toward the Italian government proved decisive in making the question of a constitution a central issue. (8) Spinelli was thus a key figure in the early years of creating a federal Europe, but for nearly four decades after that his star was eclipsed by others, notably Jean Monnet and his backers. (14)

A European Army controlled by a European Parliament

In his pursuit of European integration, as political adviser to the then Italian Prime Minister, Alcide de Gasperi, he persuaded him to push for the forming of a European Defence Community, (12,13) And he was involved in the intergovernmental negotiations for the creation of the European Defence Community (EDC). (8) He persuaded De Gasperi to insist on a provision for a parliamentary assembly to draw up plans for placing the EDC, the ECSC and any other development within a global constitutional framework to “replace the present provisional organization” with “a subsequent federal or confederal structure based on the principle of the separation of powers and having, in particular, a two-chamber system of representation”. (13)

The ‘ad hoc’ Assembly 1952-3

The European Federalist Movement believed governments alone would never relinquish their national power without popular pressure. (13) They advocated a European constituent assembly to draft a European Constitution. (13) This approach eventually had a response from governments when they set up the “ad hoc assembly” of 1952–3. (13) This Assembly was the enlarged assembly of the ECSC. (8) The Assembly was invited to submit its proposals within six months of its constitutive meeting following the entry into force of the EDC treaty. (13) In fact, the Foreign Ministers, meeting three months after the signature of the EDC treaty, invited the ECSC Assembly immediately to draft a “treaty constituting a European Political Authority” without waiting for ratification of the EDC Treaty. (13) Spinelli played a significant role in advising the drafting of the Assembly’s proposal for a European “Statute”. (13) However, the failure of France to ratify the EDC treaty meant it was all to no immediate avail. (13) It was thanks to Spinelli’s campaigning that the ad hoc was given the task of drawing up the statute of the European Political Community, the political body to be charged with controlling the European army. (8) The Assembly fulfilled its mandate by drawing up a constitution text, (8) but its work suffered a setback (8,12) when it was frustrated by France’s refusal to ratify the EDC in 1954, (7,8)much to Spinelli’s disappointment. (12) Some of its ideas, however, were taken up in subsequent events. (13)

1954-60 Campaigning against Nation States

Between 1954 and 1960, (8) following the crisis of the failure of the EDC and the “re-launch” under the Paul-Henri Spaak committee, which led to the 1958 EEC Treaty, Spinelli, recognising that the EEC institutions were the only real existing form of European integration, but still considering that they were insufficient and that they lacked a democratic legitimacy, embarked on a “long march through the institutions”. (13) He and the European Federalist Movement re-launched the federalist struggle, working to mobilise the by then widespread Europeanism into a growing popular protest (the Congress of the European People) directed against the very legitimacy of the nation-states. (8) During that period Lord Layton became deputy leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords. (14) Having opposed British membership of a European Federation, Layton now changed his views and held that Britain should be part of a federal Europe. (14) But the ‘United States of Europe’ was seriously knocked off course by General de Gaulle and his Europe des Patries. (14)

The 1960s

In the 1960s Spinelli abandoned the European Federalist Movement. (8) He became a government adviser and researcher, established the Institute of International Affairs in Rome. (12) He furthered the European cause in the academic field. (12) In 1967, (2) [OR] 1966 (4) he founded the Institute of International Affairs in Rome (2,12) and headed it until 1970. (2) Professor Ernesto Rossi worked for the European Federalist Movement and for the Action Party and, until his death in Rome in 1967, wrote extensively and strove to establish the United States of Europe. (14)

European Commissioner 1970-76

As Monnet’s health declined and his influence began to fade, perhaps coincidentally Spinelli started to return to centre stage. (14) In 1970 (2,4) early in the life of the European Community, Spinelli (7,8) was nominated as (8,13) an Italian representative (7,8) on the European (2,4) Executive (2,8) Commission. (7,8) He took responsibility for developing European policies (7,13) in the new (13) field of industrial policy (7,14) [OR] internal policy. (12) In 1970, he was nominated by the Italian government to be a member of the European Commission from 1970 to 1976, taking responsibility for industrial policy to. (13) In this post he ‘demonstrated a certain realism’. (9) He remained a member until 1976. (2) During that time the oil crisis and consequent recession was another blow to the progress of the Unite States of Europe project. (14) In 1975, his wife Ursula founded the Association Femmes pour l’Europe in Brussels, then in the first days of December of that year, suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage, followed by aphasia, from which she was never to recover completely. (6)

Member of the European Parliament 1976-86

By co-option, 1976-9

In 1976, (4,7) having finished his period on the Commission, Spinelli decided to run for the European Parliament as an independent candidate on the list of the Italian Communist Party. (7) He sat in the Italian Parliament representing the Communist party (12,14) for three years. (12) He became a Member of the European Parliament in 1976 (4,9) as part of the Italian delegation to the European Parliament. (2,4) He was well known there as a Communist. (14) He liked to think of himself as an independent one. (14) The European Project seemed to be blooming when Roy Jenkins, as President of the European Commission, began to get the European Monetary System off the ground. (14) The ERM was in place, everyone had joined except for Britain, and EMU was surely just round the corner, when the European train hit the buffers with the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. (14)

By direct election, 1979

Spinelli decided to run in the first direct elections to the European Parliament (4,7) as a Communist (10,14)[OR] as an independent candidate on the list of the Italian Communist Party. (7,13)The Italian party by then had become a Eurocommunist party and was keen to have prominent independent figures to stand on its list of candidates. (13) He was elected (10,12) re-elected (2) MEP in 1979. (2,10) These were the first direct elections to the European Parliament. (4,7) He promoted his ideas honed over four decades, (14) and urged the first elected parliament to use its democratic legitimacy to propose a radical reform of the European Community, to transform it into (13,14) a democratic European state. (13) [OR] a fledgling5 Super State. (14) [OR] a European supranational government to prevent further wars. (12) To this end, he began to gather like-minded Members of the European Parliament around him, taking care to involve Members from different political groups. (13) Spinelli was powerful, forceful but not subtle. (14) After Monnet’s death in 1979 Spinelli was really back in the limelight. (14) Into the gap created by Mrs Thatcher stepped Spinelli; by then 73 years old and one of the few of the original “European” planners still alive. (14)

Spinelli and Thatcher

Mrs Thatcher triggered the events which renewed Spinelli’s attempts to move ever more closely towards a United States of Europe. (14) In 1980, Mrs Thatcher had the temerity to challenge the Community and demand ‘our money back’. (14) The leaders of the other eight countries still had much to learn about Mrs Thatcher’s tenacity and determination. (14) They thought they could frustrate her and preserve Britain’s enforced largesse. (14) They failed, she won; and her victory left the Community in a state of what the federalists called ‘a suspended crisis’. (14) Spinelli stepped back into the limelight, rising to the challenge posed by the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. (14)

The Crocodile Club

Spinelli had defended and maintained the idea of a federal Europe throughout his life. (2,8)He had been able to imagine a united Europe even before the European Community was born, (5) and it was in the European Parliament that he had a second opportunity to start a constitutional campaign. (8) In July (14) 1980, (12,14) together with other Federalist-minded MEPs, (4,12) just after Mrs Thatcher had asked “for our money back”, (14) Spinelli (4,7) [OR] An initial meeting at the “Crocodile” restaurant in Strasbourg (13) founded (4,7) [OR] co-founded (7,13) the Crocodile Club, (4,7) a group of (4,14) eight (14) MEPs (4,14) named after the restaurant in Strasbourg they frequented. (7,12) During the following years, one would often see him in the Crocodile restaurant, continuing to explain why the European federation is a necessary thing. (7) It enabled him to remain prominent on the European political scene. (7) The Crocodile Club (12,14) [OR] ‘Movement’ (14) wanted a new European treaty. (12,14) 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. (14) Once the Crocodile Club was of sufficient size, (13) it tabled a motion for Parliament to set up a special committee (12,13) (eventually established in January 1982 as the Committee on Institutional Affairs, with Spinelli as General Rapporteur) (13) to draft a proposal for a new treaty on union, (12, 13) which would be the next step beyond the 1957 Treaty of Rome. (14) The idea was that the European Parliament should act as a constituent assembly. (12,13) Although Spinelli was prepared to make compromises on the way to secure broad majorities behind the process, (13) the new treaty would effectively be the constitution for the United States of Europe. (12) The federalist proposal (7,8) of the “Crocodile Club”, of which Spinelli was a co-founder, (7) soon prevailed among the members of the European Parliament. (7,8)

Second Term 1984-6

He was re-elected in 1984, (2) and became President of the European Parliament’s Institutional Commission in 1984. (8) In that year Mrs Thatcher took on the European Union and won again. (14) Spinelli was a member of the E.U. parliament for ten years (1,2) from 1976 (2,8) right up until his death (1,2)in 1986. (2,8)He played a role in re-launching the integration process in the 1980s. (2,8) As an MEP he once again seized the chance to promote his Federalist vision of Europe. (12) His was the most powerful voice calling for integration (10) marking the resumption of the EU’s journey to single nationhood (1,3)

The Draft Treaty, 1984

He conducted his last combats within the Strasbourg chamber. (9,12) Impatient with the long delay since 1945, Spinelli wanted to create one state in a single leap. (14) His proposals were based on an alliance between the Commission and the Parliament. (14) Both wanted to increase their own power at the expense of the Council of Ministers and the nation states, which are natural allies. (14) Spinelli wanted a Union which, as he said, “will have the sole power to act by its own decisions”; this would mean the end of “inter-governmental co-operation”. (14) He had been campaigning for that for forty years. (14) 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. (14) 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. (14) By stages, he persuaded (10,12) the Italian government (10) and then the European Parliament (8,10)of the wisdom of his proposals. (10,12)Spinelli thought that the European Parliament should act as a constituent assembly (i.e. introduce a constitution for) for a Federal Europe. (7) Between 1982 and 1984 (9) he developed his project of a Treaty on European Union, a project that inspired the Single Act and the Maastricht Treaty. (7,10)This bore fruit when (7) on 14th February (5,7) 1984 the European Parliament (4,5) debated and (5) adopted the draft ‘Treaty (4,5) by an overwhelming majority in the Parliament (8,12) with 237 votes for and 31 against, (7,13) with 43 absent (7)[OR] abstaining. (13) It set out a federal reform of the Community, (4) moving to a superstate in one leap. (14) This would have established the ‘European Union’. (5,12) The draft treaty was called the ‘Spinelli (5,12) Draft’ (5) [OR] Plan (10,12) because Spinelli was the rapporteur-coordinator of the parliamentary committee that drafted the text. (5,13) It was the culmination of his political career. (5) Only two countries however, Belgium and his own country of Italy, called for the treaty to be ratified. (14) It was blocked and shelved by the national governments. (7,8) Mrs Thatcher said ”No! no! no!” (14) It nevertheless triggered the negotiations and provided the impetus (7,12)[OR] basis (10,12) for the strengthening of the EU Treaties in the 1980s and ‘90s. (10,12) such as the Single European Act of 1986 which opened up the national borders for the common market, and for the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 (12,13) forming the European Union. (12)

The Single European Act, 1986

Spinelli’s enthusiasm convinced French President Mitterrand to promote the reversal of French policy (12,13) (since Charles De Gaulle) (13,14) of hostility towards anything other than an intergovernmental approach to Europe. (12,13) This provided the momentum in a number of European governments [OR] parliaments (13) to propel the European integration process further. (12) Several parliaments adopted resolutions approving the Draft Treaty. (13) This momentum was enough to obtain the support of a majority of national governments to trigger the treaty revision procedure. (13) Spinelli’s way of keeping the national governments quiet was to be the principle of subsidiarity. (14) All decisions would be made at the lowest appropriate level of government. (14) Subsidiarity is a political trick. (14) It was part of the 1948 German constitution and German Basic Law states unambiguously in article 31 that “Federal law shall override Land law”. (14) Therefore sovereignty lies with the Federal Government. (14) Spinelli said subsidiarity would help the “transition to a higher level of union”. (14) In Germany it is the Federal Government which decides what issues shall be settled lower down by the Länder. (14) Just as Spinelli intended, subsidiarity can be useful in public relations. (14) Most political speeches refer to it. (14) Subsidiarity was designed to make centralisation more palatable. (14) The nation states have all to some extent fallen for Spinelli’s device. (14) But the British Government under Prime Minister John Major, took it to be an enshrining principle of the Maastricht Treaty. (14) Judges from the European Court have confirmed that it is only a means to an end. (14) The end is a single State. (14) The European Council met in the next year in Milan and decided to convene the Intergovernmental Conference that drafted (4) the Single European Act (7,10) of 1985 (8) [OR] 1986. (10) This was less ambitious than the Draft Treaty. (4,7) It was not a constitution but an enlarged free trade treaty. (7) Spinelli was disappointed, but that was not the end of it. (14) It was later adopted by the governments (4,7) and relaunched the Community on a path which led to the Euro and to a further strengthening of the Parliament’s powers. (4) His thoughts inspired many changes in the European Union, in particular major increases of powers to the European Parliament, (8,12) making it a new actor in the process of democratising the Community’s institutions. (8) A new committee under the Irish Senator, James Dooge. (14) Dooge’s 1985 report called for ‘a qualitative leap’ to ‘a genuine political entity… i.e. a European Union.’ (14) Most of the Dooge Committee’s proposals appeared either in the Single European Act or the Maastricht Treaty and they included much — but not yet all — of what Spinelli had been battling for. (14) For example, in the Single European Act – which according to the British Government is all about free trade and a single market – the nation states moved a step closer to a single foreign policy. (14) In 1992 followed the Maastricht Treaty (which established the European Union) (7,10) and now the Amsterdam Treaty. (14) At a seminar just before the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, European jurists, including the former president of the Court of Justice, affirmed that subsidiarity is “political in essence”, not judicial. (14) That is to say it is nothing to do with the Court. (14) The Treaty says that subsidiarity only applies to areas which do not fall within the “exclusive competence” of the Community. (14) Conveniently that excludes subsidiarity from the whole of the Single Market framework – just about the only aspect of “Europe” in which Britain has been genuinely interested, though that too is not what the British think it is. (14) The Single Market is about uniformity, monopoly and protectionism, not about free trade. (14)

Illness and Death

Spinelli himself lived to see none of these developments. (2,10) [OR] Spinelli’s greatest satisfaction was seeing the creation of the common market and then the EU. (11) His health declined in his late 70s. (10) He suffered from neoplasia, which involves the growth of abnormal tissue, or tumors. (2) He died in a clinic (2,10) in Rome (2,4) on 23rd May (1,4) 1986. (1,2) He was 78 years old. (2) [OR] 79 (11) By the time of his death, he had been a member of the European Commission for six years6, (1,7) He was buried in Ventotene, as a return to the roots of his European commitment. (9) The main building of the European Parliament in Brussels is named after him. (1) The 1987–1988 academic year at the College of Europe and the 2009–2010 academic year of the European College of Parma were named in his honour. (1) The main building of the European Parliament in Brussels is named after him. (11,12) Ventotene remains in some ways a permanent monument to Spinelli, who was returned to the island following his death and interred in the churchyard of the Parrocchia Santa Candida Vergine e Martire. (10) The Federalist movement still holds regular meetings on the tiny island. (12) The former prison has been converted into colourful summer homes and visitors can even sleep in Spinelli’s old apartment. (10)

Conflicting Views on Spinelli’s Achievement.

Spinelli Right and Effective

Altiero Spinelli is less well-known than the other “founding fathers” of Europe, and his ideas deserve to be much more known. (9) 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. (14) Spinelli’s certainty, drive and ambition, partially born of his Communist training, were later to be critical in creating the European Union. (14) Just like another European visionary, Victor Hugo, who had himself once dreamed of a united Europe (11) Spinelli was a visionary federalist who exerted a decisive influence on European integration, revolutionary communist but also the profound defender of a democratic Europe. (9) The way Spinelli’s thinking and work developed can be better understood if we consider first the arguments set out in the Ventotene Manifesto and then his activities in the European Federalist Movement, right up until his entry into the European institutions as a Commissioner and then Member of the European Parliament. (5) Spinelli’s attitude differed from that of federalists before him, who limited themselves to denouncing the historical crisis of the nation-state and setting the achievement of the European federation at some indeterminate future time. (8) Such federalists, had not set themselves the objective of drawing up a precise plan of action and had not renounced being involved first and foremost in liberal, socialist or democratic struggles. (8) Spinelli, on the other hand, convinced that following the Second World War the European federation would become the concrete objective of political struggle, realised that an opportunity had opened up for the federalist struggle. (8) Spinelli therefore unhesitatingly denounced the limits of the functionalist approach to European unification, and the Europeanists’ illusion of being able to achieve federation without the states renouncing their national sovereignty. (8) From the outset he aimed to exploit the contradictions which emerged when the various national policies were pooled at the international level. (8) In contrast to the community method followed by Jean Monnet, Spinelli advocated a ‘constituent’ method. (8) Not only did this Italian politician, during his career, live through the various stages of European integration, he often anticipated them. (5) He pursued the goal of establishing a political union between the countries of Europe with determination and confidence to the very end. (5) His efforts triggered a new momentum in European integration, including a major increase in the powers of the European Parliament within the EU system. (13) The Maastricht Treaty was a posthumous victory for Spinelli, who died in 1986. (9) Now, 30 years on, Spinelli and the draft treaty he championed are considered to be key elements in the European Union’s integration process. (5,11) Many of the Manifesto’s ideals are taken for granted — free education, the end of totalitarianism, freedom of speech, access to housing and the right to participate in the process of government. (11) There have been unprecedented social and economic advances, and more than 70 years of peace since the end of the second world war has enabled Europeans to live and work together. (11) Spinelli’s legacy was recognised when the main building of the European Parliament in Brussels was named after him (10,13) in 1999. (10) On 15 September 2010 under the name Spinelli Group an initiative was founded to reinvigorate the strive for federalisation of the European Union (EU). (13) Prominent supporters of the group are: Jacques Delors, Joschka Fischer, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Andrew Duff, Elmar Brok. (13) In 2016, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande on the island, where they laid a wreath at Spinelli’s tomb (10) and staged a mini-summit meeting to discuss the future of the EU following the referendum staged in Britain. (10, Wik7)Altiero Spinelli would he be delighted to see an increased interdependence between the European countries, a reunited Europe, and many of his ideas used, such as subsidiarity or the co-decision process for the European Parliament. (9)

Spinelli Right but Ineffective

The Maastricht and Lisbon treaties fell short of what Spinelli would have liked. (13) He believed it was necessary to make the states accept a treaty according to which they declared themselves ready to cede a part of their sovereignty in favour of a supranational government, but it was necessary for the European people to participate in defining a constitution that established the form and responsibilities of this new union between the states. (8) The EU is now led by Mr Juncker, who says that ‘the people cannot be allowed to decide’. (HN) The final step was to be taken within the institution that Spinelli (5,8) the revolutionary communist, and defender of a federal ideal for Europe (9) had always considered to be the most representative and best suited to playing a leading role in the integration process – the European Parliament. (5,8) The beginning of the 21st century has seen many of Spinelli’s original objectives discarded by a society that has become corrupt and greedy in the quest for political power and monetary gain. (11) Instead of looking after the wellbeing of the people, governments have pandered to the demands of the elite to preserve their privileges. (11) The financial crisis has brought to the surface a growing disparity of wealth and inequality, with the expansion of the global economy and advent of new technology. (11) The significance of unions, once staunch protectors of the working class, has been radically weakened. (11) Lack of regulation has allowed the financial and corporate sectors to help themselves to the nation’s wealth through massive earnings, privatization of national assets and the use of tax havens. (11) Instead of a fairer society, private property and inheritance laws are aimed at maintaining the wealth and privileges of the elite: the wealthiest 85 people own more than the three billion poorest people on the planet. (11) And while in the richest nations the privileged elite has seen its wealth and power increase, austerity measures have caused severe hardship to a substantial percentage of the population. (11)

Spinelli Wrong but effective

After Maastricht and Lisbon, existing inter-governmental meetings to co-ordinate and discuss foreign policy and defence now had Treaty status. (14) Technically, foreign policy was still outside the Community, but for the first time the Commission was to be “fully associated” with it and the member states agreed to “ensure that common principles and objectives are gradually developed and defined”. (14) The British Government thought this was a good and harmless idea: it did not involve coercion. (14) It was, of course, the thin end of the wedge. (14) Throughout the development of the European superstate the first stage of assimilating elements of national government has been to begin with co-operation and then by degrees to work towards compulsion. (14) The federalists have played the same trick time and time again; and each time the British Government has fallen for it. (14) Unfortunately, Mrs Thatcher did not appear to understand the underlying purpose of the Single European Act. (14) She wrote “At Brussels [in January 1985] I also launched an initiative on deregulation designed to provide impetus to the Community’s development as a free trade and free enterprise area. (14) It was intended to fit in with our own economic policy… ” (14) Her view of the Community was mistaken. (14) Yet it is typical of the way the Community is seen from London, where even now few understand the driving force behind ‘Europe’. (14) Most still think only in terms of free trade and practical, commercial results. (14) They do not see the full implications of the European Union. (14) How sad it is that over the last thirty-five years of British membership British governments have not looked behind the facade of the European Union. (14) And as Hugh Gaitskell foretold, the inhabitants of the British Isles may no longer be British, only European. (14) It would be the end of a thousand years of history. (14) He inspired (3,4) Guy Verhofstadt and other True Believers (3) with the idea of a Federal Europe (3,4) and they conducted an obsessive quest for a White Whale: supranationalism. (3) Verhofstadt has now used the word “Empire”. (3) The EU wants to become one. (3) It wants to be like Russia, China, the US – all countries that M. Macron named (obscenely using Verdun and the centenary of the Armistice) as the EU’s potential future military opponents. (3) It wants to be big. (3) It wants to be mighty. (3) It wants an Army, an air force, an aircraft carrier; it wants nuclear weapons. (3) It wants to help African countries in their internal conflicts; it wants to “restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity” while Russia holds the Eastern part and the US arms and trains Ukrainian forces. (3) It wants everything that Jean Monnet gave his life’s work to prevent. (3) It wants what could lead to war. (3)

Spinelli Wrong and Ineffective

Spinelli would be disappointed at seeing the Europe he helped create in such turmoil and confusion. (9,11) The European Union faces its gravest crisis since the common market came into existence at the Treaty of Rome in 1957. (11) Would he be desperate to see that the concept of “United States of Europe” arouses so much wariness nowadays? (9) Or would he be distraught to see a still too little democratic Europe, adept of a “pseudo-democracy” vilified by Jürgen Habermas or Thomas Piketty, and the disappearing Europhilia in his native Italy? (9) Individual states dissatisfied with the technocrats in Brussels are reasserting their right to determine their own policies and laws while many of Europe’s regions are seeking more autonomy or even independence. (11) Concern over the influence of Islam and its radical factions, and massive immigration caused by poverty and military conflicts in Africa and Asia, has led to the rise of populist political parties across the continent, bringing the fear of a return to rightwing extremism. (11) Instead of a European utopia, we face the break-up of the EU and the end of the dream, which began on a tiny island off the Italian coast in 1941. (11) If the EU is to survive the present crisis, political leaders should take another look at the Manifesto and its objectives, to revive the dream of one of its founding fathers. (11) [OR] Soon Spinelli may be able to rest in peace content that his vision has been realised. (14)

Appendix I: the Ventotene Manifesto

For something written on cigarette-papers it is a lengthy document. (14) It called for the establishment of a European federation by the democratic powers after the war. (13) It argued for “for a free and united Europe”, and was (6,10) an early (6) [OR] the first (10) sketch of a post-war democratic European Union. (6,10) It argued that if all of the European countries retained their complete national sovereignty in the post-war landscape then the possibility of a Third World War would still exist even if the Nazi attempt to establish the domination of the German race in Europe was defeated, (10,12) because it would represent the re-establishment of the old European system of sovereign nation-states in shifting alliances. (13) This would inevitably lead to war again. (13) It is one of the first documents arguing for a European constitution. (12) In the Ventotene Manifesto Spinelli argued that a Federal Union of Europe had to be the top priority for post-war Italy. (14) The workers of both capitalist and Communist countries had to be liberated. (14) It formed the basis for the Movimento Federalista Europeo. (10) It set out a number of ideals, which they believed were fundamental in establishing political and social reforms across the continent. (11) The manifesto proposed the formation of a supranational European federation of states, the primary goal of which was (12) to create a European federation of states so closely joined together they would no longer be able to go to war with one another. (9,10). Although Spinelli had had issues with Stalin, he was never to move far from his Stalinist roots. (14) As communists, the writers believed in pure socialist principles and the manifesto followed that doctrine. (11,14) The struggle was against social inequality and privileges; those who owned nothing had the same rights as wealthy landowners; capitalistic economic forces should not control the people but be subject to control by the people so that the majority of the population would not become victims of the system. (11) They were against monopolies being in private ownership and believed that sectors for the common good (electricity, water etc) or required subsidies to survive should all be nationalized. (11) Agriculture would be organized around cooperative farms and mass-produced goods of necessity – food, housing, clothing and a minimum of comfort – must be available to all. (11)



Bibliographical notes

Books 7 and 13 suspiciously similar. Agreements disallowed.

1 2 yrs after it had secured supreme power?

2 The War for Italy began in June 1940. If he spent ten years in prison that takes us at the most to 1937, when his confinement (as opposed to being in prison) began, so he must have moved from prison in 1937.

3 The island of Ponza has had a chequered history. (10) Inhabited from neolithic to Roman times, it was abandoned during the middle ages due to frequent attacks by Saracens and pirates and not recolonised until the 18th century. (10) Due to its remoteness, it was used as penal colony by several regimes in addition to the Fascists. (10) Mussolini himself was confined there for a brief period after his arrest in 1943. (10)

4 Spinelli’s future wife Ursula Hirschmann was born into a middle-class Jewish family to Carl Hirschmann and Hedwig Marcuse in Berlin. (6) She studied economics at Humboldt University of Berlin, together with her brother Albert O. Hirschman, later a candidate for the Nobel Prize. (6) In 1932, she joined the youth organization of the Social Democratic Party to participate in the resistance against the advance of the Nazis. (6) In the summer of 1933, Ursula and her brother moved to Paris, where they became re-acquainted with Eugenio Colorni, a young Italian philosopher and socialist whom they had already met in Berlin. (6) She continued on to Trieste, the home town of Colorni, where she married him in 1935. (6) They had three daughters: Silvia, Renata, and Eva (who, in 1973, married the Indian economist Amartya Sen). (6) The couple became engaged in the clandestine anti-fascist opposition. (6)

5 ‘flegling’

6 Misleading. He was on it 1970-76.


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