Year LIX, 2017, Single Issue, Page 16
In Memory of Mario Albertini
The first six essays in this issue of our review are a tribute to Mario Albertini, who was both the creator and the founder of The Federalist. Published to mark the twentieth anniversary of his death, they are the proceedings of a recent conference organised (in collaboration with the Albertini Foundation and The Federalist) by the University of Pavia, where Albertini taught for many years. The event provided a valuable opportunity to remember Albertini’s remarkable theoretical and political contributions.
Albertini was a political scientist and a theorist of federalism, but he was also the politician who picked up the mantle of Altiero Spinelli and transformed the MFE into an organisation of militants that has remained in the field for over seventy-five years and succeeded in playing a small but key part in the European process; at the same time, he was a teacher and guide to several generations that, over the decades, have been involved in the battle for a European federation.
Twenty years after his death, his thought, which anticipated many current trends, continues to give us the categories and analytical tools we need to understand the reality we are living through, and to reason on the political action necessary to influence it; this applies particularly in today’s times of great change and great uncertainty.
Now, in particular, the world is going through a phase of dangerous instability, which stems mainly from the fact that the United States has lost its capacity to lead, while the European Union continues to be powerless and unable to play a responsible role on the international stage. What is more, Europe, rocked by populist currents, teeming with fears, and grappling with the urge to return to its nationalist past, is becoming caught up in a spiral of tensions between the member states that is leaving it weak and fragile. The European Union finds itself stuck in the quagmire of a precarious Community system that claims not to undermine the nation states’ sovereignty, even though national sovereignty, in today’s world, is an increasingly illusory concept; as a result, even though relations between the European states are now characterised by a high degree of interdependence — an interdependence sealed and rendered irreversible by their shared currency —, the European project has still not been made indestructible, as Draghi warned at the height of the economic and financial crisis. Indeed, even though its implosion would have a devastating domino effect, the European Union still has to equip itself with institutional mechanisms capable of neutralising (or preventing) irrational decisions on the part of some of its members. The only way of securing and safeguarding the European edifice is to steer the European project back towards its original political objective, in such a way that the current rules-based system of European governance might make way for the formation of a true political government.
This vision of Europe as a laboratory for the construction of a federal supranational political power, which Albertini, together with Spinelli, developed and enriched with analyses that are still highly pertinent today, is another reason why Albertini continues to be a crucial guiding light. And it also explains why his intellectual and moral legacy is so precious and important to perpetuate.