Year XLI, 1999, Number 2, Page 125

 

 

THE POWER ASPECT OF EUROPEAN PLANNING*

 
MARIO ALBERTINI
 
 
1. There are no such things, in reality, as pure economic events. Strictly speaking, we cannot even talk of economic events, only of historical-social ones that have a prominent economic aspect. Such events can, and indeed must, be analysed in purely economic terms as these are the only ones capable of highlighting this specific aspect. But that, on its own, is not enough. Together with this specifically economic aspect, these events also present psychological, legal and political aspects which must, in turn, be examined in purely psychological, legal and political terms. This is, indeed, the way in which historians examine events in the past. When it comes to true economic projects, like that of European planning, which cannot be actuated without resolving, together with the problem of their economic coherence, the question of their feasibility from a psychological, legal and political point of view, this theoretical perspective, which in historical research manifests itself in dialectical forms, becomes an operational necessity that gives rise, or should give rise, to interdisciplinary analyses.[1]
In other words, no approach to European planning can fail to tackle the non economic aspects of this economic problem. It is my intention to present here some considerations of a political nature, or rather, to examine what might, in the light of this clarification, be termed the power aspect of European planning. With the evolution of political science lagging behind that of economics, my considerations will inevitably lack the precision of those advanced by economists. It is already difficult in politics to recognise problems, to separate the real ones from the imaginary ones. Therefore, by way of an introduction, I will seek, first of all, to identify the main problems relating to the power aspect of European planning, and only having done this will I, in order to make my comments more concrete, go on to discuss possible solutions to them.
 
2. In my view, the first question that arises is this: has the question of European planning reached its moment of truth? Political problems fall into two categories: there are those that, posed by the evolution of the historical-social process, cannot be escaped, and there are others which depend upon voluntary choices. In the first case, they are problems which will not go away until a solution is found; in the second, they are problems which can as readily be tackled as shelved. It is my belief that European planning has, in ways that will be specified, reached its moment of truth. This does not mean, however, that we can predict how long it will be before a solution to the problem is reached. There exists no conceptual analytical instrument that can enable us to predict times of this kind, to indicate the dates, and the precise form, of future historical events. But what we can do, using the analytical instruments at our disposal, is identify macroscopically certain historical and social trends, and assess their substance and, at times, their irreversibility; thus, we may ultimately do as the ancients would have done and (to use a term taken from classical political language whose original technical and human significance is lost today) indicate, in political-operational terms, their necessity.
I think that European planning can be said to have reached its moment of truth, an affirmation based on my belief that the development of the mixed economy is a process which, like that of European integration, can correctly be regarded as irreversible in nature. The link between these historical trends is clear to see. A mixed economy promotes a concerted economy and the need for economic planning,[2] and this planning must, reflecting the extent of the passage of the economy from the national to the European sphere, take on a European dimension. The link is clear to see, but the irreversibility of the process remains to be proven. In the framework of this discussion, the irreversibility of the development of the mixed economy can be taken as read, while a question mark hangs over that of the process of European integration.
Opinions are divided, and the uncertainty derives, in part, from the fact that this is a process of transformation that is progressing along the lines of least resistance and generating provisional and discordant situations, one that is creating, in short, an overall picture characterised confusion. Perhaps, as we shall see, the surest way of establishing what point the process of integration has reached, and what form its development might now take, is to identify the lines along which it is advancing. However, before embarking on this exercise, I believe that the question of its irreversibility might reasonably be considered by bearing in mind the difficulty, or the impossibility of turning back. The economic-social process, notably in the ambit of ‘the Six’, has now extended beyond national confines. To bring it back within the ambit of the nations would mean travelling once more, this time in the opposite direction, along the path that led to the birth of the Common Market. At the present time there is — unless some political or social catastrophe occurs — no political power with the capacity to carry through such a policy, even should it wish to do so. It is a fact, for example, that even re-emerging nationalism is obliged to bend to the logic of European integration, even though it strives, of course, to prevent the ultimate consequences of the process from being realised.
On the other hand, while this hypothesis of political or social catastrophe serves to put this prospect of irreversibility back within the bounds of uncertain historical predictions (uncertain as regards the times and forms of historical developments), it does not in any way alter the conceptual terms of the problem. It points to the possibility of a temporary eclipse, not a disappearance, of the process. Integration in the ambit of ‘the Six’ is merely the most advanced stage of a much vaster process of integration of human activity at world level whose character seems to be that of the beginning of a new historical cycle, that is, of an irresistible historical force. Naturally, an evolution of this kind is not immune to crises, or even periods of stagnation or regression, crises or periods that could even, hypothetically, affect the Common Market. But it does exclude, in principle, the possibility of a lasting return to closed domestic market forms. There have already been examples in Europe this of periods of regression characterised by protectionism and a flourishing of corporative interests — periods that have been followed, in a manner so forceful and spontaneous as to seem natural, by the revival of integrative processes which, for this very reason, seem to depend, precisely on the evolution of the mode of production, in other on a primary historical event.[3]
 
3. The second question that arises, again in my view, is this: what type of power is needed for European planning? The nature of the power required could be obscured by the fact that the kind of planning possible and needed is, roughly speaking, “indicative” planning based on a “concerted” economy.[4] When the characteristics “indicative” and “concerted” are highlighted, however, thinking is “led astray by words” (by their usual meanings, the ones they have outside the present context, that is)[5] and runs quickly towards the idea of a compromise between different centres of political and economic power, rather than towards the idea of an autonomous political power with the capacity to act on its own behalf. And depending on the degree to which one thinks in this way, the power of the EEC Commission (a power based on initiative and on dialogue between the national governments represented in the Community’s Council of Ministers) might even be deemed adequate for the task. However, this hasty hypothesis fails to take into account two things.
a) It forgets that the framework of an “indicative” plan must incorporate economic policy, and therefore that while it is indicative only where certain activities conducted by private operators are concerned, it is in principle — and very much in fact — automatically binding where economic activities carried out directly by the political power are concerned[6] and, directly or indirectly, also as regards aspects of the economic activity carried out by private operators who are conditioned, or appear to be conditioned, by the economic policies of governments.
“Indicative” European planning — multicentric and concerted — does not render total elimination of the economic sovereignty of the national governments necessary. It could be ascertained, for example, which state-owned enterprises should remain in the hands of the national governments (thus becoming national elements in coordinated policies implemented at European level), and which need to become European. But there can be no denying that for some state-owned enterprises, becoming European is, especially in the high-tech sector, a necessity. There can be no denying that monetary policy, and many other general components of economic policy, must be established at European level. And there can be no denying, finally, that these indispensable preconditions for European planning demand a level of political strength, and political will, that can be manifested only in a European governmental power, in other words, in a constitutionally defined state-type power. There exists no real theory that allows the refutation of such a conclusion, or the identification of a power of a lower order which is equal to the task of planning.[7]
In the absence of a European governmental power, thoughts can turn only to a “harmonisation” of national economic policies. This is an idea which is usually advanced by chance, without any examination of its political prerequisites, and without questioning whether it is realistic or utopian. The problem that is overlooked in this case is that of the degrees of “harmonisation” compatible with the absolute sovereignty of the states. And the fact that is overlooked is the persistence of this of sovereignty, which is a long way from being even slightly undermined as some theorists rashly affirm. Within the limits of an empirical application of the concept of sovereignty (as the faculty to decide in the last instance, not as a lack of any external influence on the decision-making centres), it is possible, without the fear of being belied by events, to affirm that the absolute sovereignty of the EEC member states has remained intact, because the process that is the formation of the political will of the people comes to a complete, indeed an absolute, stop at the level of national elections, a level beyond which the “lawless freedom” so effectively illustrated by Kant[8] persists.
In any case, harmonisation is in fact incompatible with planning because it excludes a priori the establishment (liberated from concerted decision-making) of the bare minimum in terms of fixed points of reference, starting with that of currency, which the indicative planning of a multicentric economy needs if it is to take shape. It goes without saying that nothing in a concerted economy, can be “concerted” (or “harmonised”) without first rendering impossible the very aim that is pursued: the establishment of a global economic direction, broadly regulated but compatible with wide freedom of choice for private operators and public powers which rank below the level of the power.
b) The fact is also overlooked that the technical blueprint of the European plan cannot be divorced from the power situation. There is no need to bring in the sociology of knowledge to realise that any social planning, like any social cognition, is dependent on point of view and that point of view, in turn, depends upon the position of power of whoever does the planning, or examines proposals. A European plan, even seen as pure technical elaboration, is destined, until such time as it originates from a European governmental power (that is, from technicians in the service of such a power), to be inadequate.
It must also be underlined that this European governmental power must not extend beyond the limits of federal competency. In a concerted economy, it is essential that not only private operators, but also political centres operating at levels lower than that of the general one, have autonomous decision making capacity. In Europe this means, in practice, limited but nevertheless real autonomy for public centres both national and regional. In constitutional terms, this implies the balanced division of power not only on a functional level (legislative, executive, judicial), but also on a territorial one, in other words the federalist scheme for the distribution of power.
As far as the development of the idea of planning is concerned, there is still a long way to go. In the final analysis, such planning embraces not only the economy, but also the idea of modern government, of a government whose every activity (including those which are not directly economic) is organised democratically and rationally. This is not only because such activities involve costs, but also and above all because with a haphazard use of the territory, they open up the risk of so-called “ecological catastrophe”, as well as that of the mishandling or destruction of natural resources and of urban organisation (in the true sense of the term, imbued with all its historical, artistic and community value), ultimately endangering the elements which constitute the very environment for the physical and civil existence of mankind.[9]
But, despite the fact that the road is still long, European planning, seen as work in progress, demands, from the very outset, a series of powers which are, at once, both strong and limited — a power situation which is incompatible with the unitary, national form of state — and which can reach a certain level of decentralisation, even though they can never arrive at the federalist stage of a plurality of independent and coordinated centres of power.[10]
 
4. The third question that arises, still in my view, is this: what kind of policy is needed for the formation of a European governmental power? Despite the failure of this simple question to emerge with clarity and find an answer in political debate, there can be no denying, in principle, that if we can talk of a process of formation of such a European power, we are, in effect, talking of a process which depends not only on the concourse of wills flowing each of its own accord, wittingly or otherwise, towards this end — all historical transformations involve an unwitting concourse as a subjective manifestation of the objective forces generated by the evolution of the mode of production — but also, and specifically, on human actions organised precisely with the objective in mind (in other words, on that which might be called a political line).
In this area of human activity, illusions are wont to form (or, in practice, wrong roads are wont to be taken) which can stimulate a process in its initial phases but which cannot, without constant and adequate adjustment, bring achievement of its ultimate aim. And the bearing that
these illusions (or, technically speaking, this ideological self-mystification) have on political awareness is such that it serves no purpose,
theoretical or practical, to examine a political line without
investigating also the specific ideological context in which it evolved. This is clearly true in the case of European integration, too. It is not, in
effect, possible to deal seriously with the matter of the “political line of the formation of
a European governmental power” without first discussing a few preliminary problems, and the first that should be examined is, without doubt,
that of the myths which prevent it from being recognised in its real terms.
In the context of European unification, there has evolved the myth (in different ways according to the power positions of the forces and people involved) of its spontaneous, and purely evolutional formation (without any break; without any sudden qualitative stepping-up of the drive for it). This myth, a true example of ideological self-mystification, serves to prevent those who favour a European unity based on a position of national power from recognising the individual and collective implications of the need to destroy national power — as the general power — in order to build the European power. In all cases of this kind, the idea of this or of similar needs, even if it is well known, finds itself stuck in a limbo of consciousness (which emerges as split) and of action (which, with regard to the ultimate aim, emerges as ineffective).
As far as its empirical, potentially descriptive, non imaginary content is concerned, the myth of the spontaneous formation of Europe confuses two distinct strategic phases: the phase characterised by attempts to bring about situations in which it might be possible to create a European government, or to move in this direction, and the one characterised by the act, necessarily constitutional and constituent in nature, of its creation. In short, it confuses the policy of approach with that of realisation.
In the recent past, the idea of the spontaneous passage from economic to political integration has represented the most widespread version of this myth. In schematic terms, the pseudo-rational content of the myth was this: “Let us get started on the process of the formation of the Common Market. Sooner or later we will need a European currency. But a currency implies the need for a government. So, the Common Market will, necessarily, lead to the formation of a European government”. The flaw in this lay, as is immediately obvious, in the word “necessarily” which — like in the classic example of he who believes he has a hundred thalers in his pocket, simply because he has, in his mind, the idea of having a hundred thalers in his pocket — mistakes a logical consequence for a practical one.
Federalists promptly replied that the correct sequence, still looking at the problem in schematic terms, was actually the reverse: “There can be no common market without a common currency, and no common currency without a common government, therefore the right place to start is with the question of a common government”. They also pointed out that the free trade compatible with the absolute sovereignty of the states would, in fact, inevitably find its development limited by that very sovereignty, and by the corresponding lack of a European government. And finally that, in any case, the formation of a European government could not be regarded — in a utopian way — as the by-product of other activities, but should be seen as an activity in its own right. Europe’s ruling class failed to consider these federalist observations, and hard facts have now exposed as illusory both the idea of an automatic passage from economic to political integration and — at least in the view of the most perceptive of its members — that of the establishment of an economic union in the absence of an adequate political basis (indeed, the Italian minister Emilio Colombo recently expressed views along these lines).
This is recent history. One aspect of the link between economic and political integration (a link, not an evolutional relationship) emerged in real terms, as is well known, with the proposal of the so-called federal budget. In the area of the common agricultural policy and the funding of the same, and in view of the lowering of customs barriers and the establishment of the Common External Tariff, the Commission of the EEC proposed the transfer of common customs revenue from the states to the Community, which is per se logical in economic terms. But such a transfer, amounting (in accordance with the theory of the inclined plane) to the transfer of a measure of economic sovereignty from the states to the Community and, in the last instance, of part of their political powers though still within the sphere of the policy of approach — was, for this reason, rejected. Thus, rather than strengthening the Community (in line with the myth of an automatic passage from economic to political integration), the first real problem that emerged proved capable in fact, in the absence of a policy oriented towards the objective of a European power, only of weakening it.[11]
Today, while the myth persists, particularly in sections of national left-wing politics, that the European government will be formed as a by-product of the much-desired convergence — based, according to the logic of the cart pulling the horse, on a position independent of that of the United States — of the foreign policies of the states, a second economic myth threatens to develop, i.e., that of the evolutional formation of a European government as a by-product of the start of the process that will lead to the development of European planning. Once again, it is, rather, the opposite which is true. The process that will lead to the development of European planning is, indeed, under way but it is still only in a very preliminary phase, one which corresponds to the affirmation of the principle in abstract terms. And affirmation of the principle cannot be mistaken, by those who retain a cool head, for the affirmation of the fact. Thus, it is a phase which is destined rapidly to run its course and to remain, if reduced by the lack of practical success to nothing more than a vain intention, as just another political whim.[12]
 
5. The idea of European planning could contribute to the formation of the will to found a European government. Were this to favour the definition of a true political line directed towards this end, and were this power indeed to be constituted, then its consolidation could go hand in hand with the progress of European planning. There exists an enlightening historical precedent. The economic policy through which Hamilton consolidated America’s federal government in its very early years is an example of this kind of development and one which, in the economic terms of the time, demonstrates the same political logic. But it is important not to forget that Hamilton’s achievement depended on the fact that the federal government of the Union had been conceived by the Philadelphia Convention as a constitutional formula; furthermore, its realisation (involving the transfer, according to the Philadelphia plan, of certain powers from the States to the Union) had depended upon its ratification by the people of the States. It is also important, in order to avoid mistaking this dialectical process for a simple evolutionary fact, to remember the bitter opposition of the ruling class of the thirteen States lying along the Atlantic coast, a resistance so strong that it could not have been broken without circumventing the States and having direct recourse (through the system of popular ratification) to the American people.
In the same way, without the creation of its political prerequisite, European planning can never progress from the design to the of facts, and to that of its concrete development. In this regard, it is also important to look at why the myth of the Common Market as a process of the formation of the European political power has held sway for so long. There are two reasons: first, the myth itself projected the eventual culmination of the process into a distant time, a time far-removed from its origins, and second, the transition period, thanks to the limited nature of its economic measures, could be completed in the absence of a European government. In terms of the strategy of the struggle for Europe, this is like saying that the Common Market (in reality, a customs union with an embryonic form of economic union in the sector of agriculture) has, while failing to represent the road that will lead directly to the formation of a political power, nevertheless coincided with a policy of approach to this end.
But without a European government, there can be no truly effective development of European planning (excepting the preliminary formation of a general consensus of principle), because planning is so much more than a simple phasing out of customs tariffs in the ambit of a group of states; because it involves so much more than haggling over common agricultural prices. Programming means governing in the most modern sense of the word, and it needs a government that is up to the task. The start of European planning cannot therefore coincide with the start of a new phase of approach to a European government, but only — when the political problem of economic integration has been solved — with the effective start of the activity of a European federal government proper.
 
6. Having cleared the myth of Europe’s spontaneous formation out of the way, there remains a particular problem of political technique which must be tackled before examining, in the light of the inevitable premises, the question of the specific action needed for the formation of a European government. The character of this action must, as mentioned, be political; but the fact is that political action, in so far as it concerns European integration, differs in character from the concept of political action as it is normally understood.
There is one aspect of past phases in the process of European integration that highlights particularly clearly the difference between the normal course of political action and political action with regard to European integration. It is an aspect which is known, but one whose theoretical and practical importance is not recognised, because the normal course of politics is usually perceived as something organic or natural, that is, as something outside whose bounds only political illusions might form, certainly not true political actions; thus, such actions, even when they unfold under the eyes of everyone, are destined to remain in the background, in the shadows.
It is true, however, that the origins of the phases in the process of European integration that have already passed cannot be traced back to decisions taken in the bosom of parties and governments; they do not lie within the normal (institutional) framework of the process that is the formation of political will, but rather in designs developed by small groups of people which, thanks to exceptional circumstances, men of government have been made to accept, solely on the basis of a general inclination towards European unity among the majorities in power in the various states.
These designs allowed serious difficulties that had emerged in the normal course of politics to be resolved, they had a European dimension, and the quality of seeds about to grow. This is why, having been introduced into the political equilibrium from outside, they developed into situations that needed to be managed through to their maturity. In other words, they became established facts of the European power situation, actual conditions of the normal process through which political will takes shape, which caused this process (in spite of its being fundamentally — a characteristic not yet overcome in the structure of the institutions — a struggle to preserve national powers) to assume, temporarily, a European dimension, too.
These aspects emerge, in a typical fashion, in the most important event that the process of European integration has seen, i.e., the formation of the European Community. Initially, the biggest political difficulty was the tricky question of West Germany’s inclusion, in an active role, in the North Atlantic sphere. The problems that needed to be solved were those of the Rhineland industry and of Germany’s armed forces. The British and Americans had pressed for German rearmament and for the relaunch of the Rhineland industry, but the French were reluctant. Taking advantage of the ensuing impasse, Monnet and his group developed, and brought before Schumann, the model of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), in other words the proposal to bring Germany’s coal and steel industry under European control. Schumann, who could not have gone on refusing the British and American demands for long, accepted the proposal as a last hope. Subsequently, the French proposed, as a means of preventing German national rearmament, that the Community model should be extended to the sector of defence (EDC). However, this proposal was thrown out as the result of a surge in French nationalist feeling (Italy, moreover, had not yet ratified the EDC). But the will to relaunch Europe in the economic sphere, a will driven in fact the failure of the EDC and the consequences of that failure, focused naturally on the Community model which, under Monnet’s guidance, had already proved itself in the form of the ECSC.
 
7. In the light of an examination of these preliminary problems, the problem of the specific action needed for the formation of a European governmental power comes down, if I am not mistaken, to the following question: does the general political situation (i.e., not only the political situation in terms of the advances towards European integration already achieved, but the broader political situation) present an objective difficulty that can be approached through the conception and introduction into the political equilibrium, from the outside, of a germ that the political class must manage, and whose potential for development is such that it might lead to the constitution of a European federal government?
In my view, the answer is yes, it does. To justify this answer, in the light of what I have already said, I wish first to examine, in relation to the general political situation, a few aspects of European integration in its current state. As far as European integration is concerned, we find ourselves face to face with an institutional anomaly: a European parliament not elected directly by the citizens. This is a serious reality as the parliament is, despite the current change in its function, symbolic of the highest level of popular participation in public life (as well as the channel allowing that participation). At the same time, we are faced with a European economy which is not democratically controlled. This reality, too, is a serious one. It means that a relationship has been established between civil society (largely European) and a political society which fails even to fulfil the requisites of classic liberalism, and this in an era in which events and values require actual planning, albeit “indicative” planning, and no longer the simple subordination of economic activity to a few basic civil principles.
As a rule, no connection is made in contemporary political analyses between these aspects of European integration and political evolution. But it is a connection which does exist, and when due consideration is given to it, it is easy to start to see a relationship of cause and effect emerging between these European bottlenecks and the growing tensions between the states of the North Atlantic sphere, the dwindling respect for America’s leadership, and the crisis of authority among democratic national powers. In the context of this inquiry, it is the same as saying that we are once again faced, as we were at the time of the ECSC proposal, with obstacles of an extra-national, European nature which are conditioning the normal course of political action even though, by themselves, they do not suffice to prompt, at party and government level, adequate examinations or effective responses.
The fundamental aspect of the situation (the power relationship between Western Europe and the United States, which has now decided to cut back its military presence in Europe) has been altered by the partial success of economic integration. At the same time, the deadlock that has been reached, as regards both the strengthening and the enlargement of the Common Market, has had the effect of fuelling, once again, the differences between the European states, of creating problems in economic and political relations within the North Atlantic sphere (monetary difficulties, NATO problems etc.) and of preventing those of the economy that have already taken on a European dimension from being effectively managed. It will also prevent the filling of the power vacuum that will be created in Europe by the withdrawal of American military forces. Thus, the European states which, as a result of the process of integration, find their control over the economy taken away from them, and which risk losing upon the partial closure of the American umbrella the most important factor contributing to the maintenance of their security, are declining, like any state which loses its essential functions. On the other hand, however, there is still no European power to act as a counterpoise to the Americans. The European Community, given the degree to which its organisation has evolved — and at which it has come to a halt — is not yet equipped to manage the problems of economic politics and security which, as a result of the imbalance caused by the lack of a congruous European pole, can no longer be dealt with in the context of the North Atlantic sphere.
The deadlock in the direction of enlargement of the European Community appears, in the wake of the downfall of De Gaulle and the recent conference in The Hague, to have been overcome. But this is not enough. The crisis that I have pointed to here is a crisis generated by the weakness of Europe’s political centre and it is one that can only be overcome through the strengthening of the same. Enlargement of the Community, achieved in the absence of any strengthening of its organisation, would not result in the establishment of a partner to the United States and would certainly amount to no guarantee that Europe would be given the resources (in the areas of technology, currency and defence) available to Great Britain, and the other countries which have applied to the Community.
 
8. In relation to the specific mechanism by which the Common Market has evolved, it is worth recalling, at this point in the discussion, that the above situation, which has now unfolded in all its gravity, was foreseen by the Treaty of Rome which, through Article 138 sought to introduce measures (concerning the direct election of the European Parliament) designed to counteract it. And there is no faulting its design. As it advanced, the process of economic integration was destined to generate, as indeed it has done, problems that could not be solved without a European political centre endowed with greater strength than the initial one. And direct election of the European Parliament would, indeed, have equipped Europe’s political centre with the power needed to ensure its continued progress.
This aspect of the Treaty is generally poorly understood due to the tendency to view the Community organisation, and in particular, its parliamentary organ — both of which were originally conceived as evolutional realities, as institutions of transition — in static and abstract, rather than in dynamic and concrete terms. To understand them in the latter terms, we must look beyond the European Parliament as it is today, and seek to evaluate, in the light of Article 138, what the political consequences of a European election would be.
From the electoral perspective, the Treaty makes provision, in my view, for two important elements: the alignment of the parties at European level, (which would effectively base the European Parliament on the same political interests and public consensus as the states), and the incorporation of the economic interests and needs created by the process of integration into the motivations underlying the behaviour of the parties which, in view of European elections, would have to win the consensus of the citizens also on the basis of European interests and needs.
Upon consideration of these elements, it is possible to affirm that, in concrete terms, that is, in reference to the process of the formation of political will, the reasons for the Common Market’s stagnation can be found in the failure to put Article 138 into practice. As a result of this failure, and the persistent confinement of elections to the national sphere, national economic data (as well as national political interests and national consensus), and not European ones, are incorporated into the motivations underlying the conduct of the political class. The result is a power vacuum at European level. In a confused way, the parties perceive this problem but, being unable to fight for a European political power that does not yet exist, they remain imprisoned by the national restriction, not only practically but theoretically, too (i.e., in terms of their development of political diagnoses and formulation of plans of action).
On the other hand, it is possible to affirm, again on the basis of consideration of these elements, that European suffrage is, in the framework of an evolving European society, a factor that could lead to, or represent the germ of, the formation of a European governmental power. In this regard, and in order to evaluate this view, it is necessary to consider not the Community organisation in its current state, so much as the alignment of the parties at European level, the expression of popular consensus at this level, the extent to which European political and economic interests and European ideals are incorporated with the motivations underlying the behaviour of the political class, and finally, the effects of these factors on all that Europe possesses in the way of organised institutions.
It seems certain to me, from what we know of the nature of politics, that phenomena of this kind, when fully developed, cannot fail to assume a state-like character. I am also convinced that were it possible to introduce the factor of European suffrage, the parties would, in the absence of radical changes in the political equilibrium, be required to manage it through to its full maturity. This then is, as I believe I have demonstrated, the germ that must be introduced, the germ destined to lead to the formation of a European government. The question now is whether or not such an introduction is possible. Within certain limits, what we are required to examine is an action that is already in progress.
No effective initiative that might allow the full application of Article 138 (in any case a difficult undertaking) has ever been developed either at party or government level. The reason for this is probably the fact that the decision-making centre endowed with the relevant competency, the Community’s Council of Ministers, is not, and cannot be, the organ through which this kind of political will is autonomously formed. Yet, and it is precisely for this reason, support has been growing throughout Europe, and in Italy particularly, for the staging of unilateral European elections. The idea rests, substantially, on the direct election of each country’s MEPs with eligibility to stand for election restricted, in accordance with the provisions of Article 138 concerning the appointment of delegates on a national basis, to the members of the national parliaments.
The hope that is the driving force behind these efforts is based on the hypothesis that the very first acknowledgement of the citizens’ European electoral rights would place any governments reluctant to such rights vis-à-vis their own citizens in such an awkward position that ultimately similar decisions would be taken in other countries, a process that would culminate, finally, in the general direct election of the European Parliament.[13]
In Italy, the movement towards the direct election of the MEPs is already far advanced. On June 11th, 1969, a delegation from the Italian Council of the European Movement, led by its president Giuseppe Petrilli, presented the President of the Senate, Amintore Fanfani, with a popular initiative for the direct election of the Italian members of the European Parliament. The reactions on the part of the government, and other parliamentary groups, were very favourable. Examination of the bill has already begun and there is thus the possibility that it will be passed.[14] We will learn, in the near future, whether this possibility will become a reality, and whether or not such a development will have the consequences I have suggested, as it is only through facts that conjectures can be scientifically proven. But when it comes to political conjectures, which we must make in spite of the imperfect nature of the conceptual instruments at our disposal, we must also accept that fortune has a part to play too.


*This text, slightly modified, was published in French in Le Fédéraliste, XI (1969).
[1] “psychological” is used as an umbrella term here. The aspects generally embraced by the term obviously include those referred to by sociologists under the heading “culture”.
[2] The use of the term “concerted”, like others, “indicative” — or “operational” and so on — in relation to planning is uncertain. The meaning that I attribute to these terms, however, emerges clearly from the text.
[3] The reference here is to historical materialism, which in my view can be used as a canon of historical interpretation, as affirmed, for example, by Benedetto Croce, irrespective of its dogmatic interpretation by communist parties.
[4] On the theory of indicative planning, see the recent contribution by J. Black, “The Theory of Indicative Planning”, in Oxford Economic Papers, 1968, p. 272.
[5] Alberto Moravia provided an effective illustration of psychological processes of this kind in the short story “Le parole sono pecore” (cfr. Alberto Moravia, Una cosa è una cosa, Milan 1967, pp. 231-36).
[6] This applies not only when it is a question of direct management of, or participation in, formal government activities, but also in reference to economic situations, of any nature, which are strictly bound up with the power situation.
[7] The current view opposes this however. Francesco Forte, for example, maintains that: “…a mechanism of European economic planning, with its own fiscal and parafiscal financial resources and a system of European monetary institutions that are the product of institutionalised coordination on the part of the central banks (which still retain their autonomy), could allow the EEC to remain, stably, in this intermediate situation [between the nation-state and the federal state]” (cfr. Francesco Forte, Manuale di politica economica, Turin, 1970, p. 961). But I fail to see the theoretical basis underlying this affirmation. Cfr., for the sources of my interpretation, Lionel Robbins, Economic Planning and International Order, P. Ransome (ed.) Studies in Federal Planning, London, 1943 (containing essays by Lord Lothian, Kenneth C. Wheare, Lionel Robbins, Barbara Wootton, etc.) and the renowned works of Luigi Einaudi.
[8] Cfr., in particular, Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of view.
[9] Very interesting, although debatable, angles on this can be found in: Tomás Maldonado, La speranza progettuale, Turin, 1970. For more on the regional organisation of planning in relation to the resources of the territory, and on current urban developments, cfr. Jean Gottmann, Essais sur l’aménagement de l’espace habité, Paris, 1966. On the crisis of city planning, from a view point of urban microsociology, cfr. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York, 1961.
[10] For this definition of federal state, cfr. Kenneth Wheare, Federal Government, New York, 1946.
[11] This link, which is dialectical in the material sense, being the fruit of the point which the process of integration has reached, emerges once again with the downfall of De Gaulle. In the wake of the recent conference in The Hague, decisions have been taken in relation to the “federal budget”. These decisions have regenerated the same unfounded hopes as before. That these hopes are unfounded — if we leave aside the fact that it is only through the emergence of a contradiction, and the overcoming of the same, that a dialectical link can trigger a process — is demonstrated by continuing difficulty in resolving the problems economic policy and by the return, in the very bosom of the Council of Ministers of the EEC, to the practice of national haggling.
[12] Cfr., on the subject of myths surrounding the formation of Europe, Altiero Spinelli, L’Europa non cade dal cielo, Bologna, 1960.
[13] Cfr., on the European Parliament’s contribution (provided for by Article 138) to the question of European elections, and on projects for unilateral elections: Parlement Europeen,
(Direction générale pour la documentation et pour l’information), Pour l’élection du Parlement Europeen au suffrage universel direct, Septembre 1969.
[14] For information on this popular initiative, its technical problems and political repercussions, cfr. special issue of Il Federalista entitled Una elezione per l’Europa (1969, supplement to no. 2).

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