of the “Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe” initiative
The idea of a united Europe has a long history. At the beginning of the 19th century it was among the most radical ideas supported by leading intellectuals and enlightened politicians, who sought in the creation of a “United States of Europe” the answer to bloody wars and ferocious conflicts between the Great Powers. In all its historical course the European idea has found particular resonance as an ideal of peace.
Ioannis Capodistrias and Altiero Spinelli, two personalities of pan-European stature, link together the visions and the efforts of two centuries for the unification of Europe. The former declared as early as 1820, at a peace conference, that “only the rational ascendancy of liberal and democratic ideas, the respect for the rights of small peoples and not the return to old and discredited institutions of violence, is what we should choose to secure the achievement of peace and reconciliation among the peoples of Eruope.” The latter in 1941, when a prisoner of Mussolini’s fascist regime, drew up the Manifesto of Ventotene for a free and united Europe, and after the war emerged as one of the protagonists of a democratic, social and peaceful unification of Europe on the basis of a federal model. The ideas of both men comprise a source of inspiration even today, at the beginning of the 21st century, as Europe finds itself at a crossroads and is seeking new ways out of the impasse in which its unification now finds itself.
We who sign this founding declaration of the “Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe” initiative believe that the unification of Europe is today necessary and more feasible than in any other preceding period of history. It is a matter which moreover concerns not only all of our continent, its peoples and its citizens, but humanity as a whole.
The profound and multidimensional crisis that the whole world is now experiencing shows in the clearest possible way that united Europe cannot be just a big unregulated market that will continue to be dominated by the insatiable need for profit, in the absence of democratic and social controls, with citizens continually being consigned to the margins, and public goods commodified.
It is time for citizens, and the peoples, to take into their own hands the project of European unification. To defend the European social model. To initiate a process of European construction “from below”, with institutionalization of the deliberations of citizens through pan-European referenda. With the demand for upgrading of the European Parliament, so that it can acquire full legislative and regulatory powers. In this context we demand establishment of a uniform simple-majority voting system for European elections in all member countries of the European Union.
A united Europe cannot but be a Europe of peace and ecology, independent of the United States, nuclear-free, in solidarity with poorer countries, establishing relations of mutual friendship and collaboration with all countries, and particularly those in its immediate vicinity.
Our belief is that this ideal is the political inheritance left to us by Capodistrias, Spinelli and other great Europeans, and by the movements that have through their struggles left their mark on European history, particularly throughout the 20th century and the beginnings of the 21st.
On the basis of the above ideas and goals we seek to build our initiative, which will be open to participation and collaboration at both the national and the European level.
Athens, 31st March 2009