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Alcide de Gasperi:European Founding Father

by Daniela Preda (Author)
Monographs 354 Pages
Series: Euroclio, Volume 103

Summary

Alcide De Gasperi is universally recognized as a Founding Father of Europe, but his enlightened action in favour of European unification is little known outside of Italy.
At the beginning of the 1950s, he became one of the most steadfast advocates of a European federation as a response to the problems of peace in Europe and Franco-German reconciliation. Foreseeing the limits of functional integration, he strongly supported the creation of a European political community as a framework in which to insert the nascent communities. After retracing the fundamental stages in the Europeanist education of the political leader from Trentino, the book focuses on his determination in fighting to give constituent power to the European Defense Community (EDC) Assembly, to convene the ad hoc Assembly, charged with studying and drawing up a treaty for the European Political Community, and to gain approval for the treaty.
In a Europe that today is questioning its future, reflecting on De Gasperi’s thoughts and Europeanist actions means rediscovering the founding values of the process of European unification, its accompanying ideals, and the historical reasons that have given expression to it.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. The Years of Political Education
  • 1. Trentino: A Border Region
  • 2. De Gasperi’s Cultural and Political Education
  • 3. The Experience in the Multinational Parliament of Vienna
  • Chapter 2. The Interwar Period: The Long Eve
  • 1. The Post-War Struggle in Favor of the Local Autonomies
  • 2. Wilsonian Internationalism and the Encounter with Sturzo
  • 3. The Vatican Period
  • Chapter 3. The Second War Period
  • 1. Between War and Resistance
  • 2. The Birth of Democrazia Cristiana and the Participation in the CLN
  • 3. The Future Collaborators of the President
  • Chapter 4. The Reconstruction
  • 1. The Return of Democracy
  • 2. The First Foreign Policy Actions: the De Gasperi-Gruber Agreement and the U.S. Trip
  • 3. The Peace Treaty
  • Chapter 5. The Start of European Unification
  • 1. The Marshall Plan
  • 2. The Italo-French Customs Union
  • 3. The Brussels Pact
  • Chapter 6. The Western Turning Point and the Landing to Federalism
  • 1. The 1948 Elections and the Start of a European Policy
  • 2. Government and Movements: Various Strategies for a Common Goal
  • 3. The Italian Proposals for Transforming the OEEC
  • 4. Ideals: The Speech at the Grandes Conférences Catholiques
  • 5. Pragmatism: the Conversations with Schuman and Spaak
  • Chapter 7. Europeanism and Atlanticism
  • 1. Joining the Atlantic Pact
  • 2. Europe and Peace: the Catholic Alternative to Atlanticism
  • 3. The Council of Europe
  • Chapter 8. The Schuman Plan
  • 1. A Political Choice
  • 2. National Interests and European Integration
  • 3. The Solution of the Technical Problems and the Ratification
  • Chapter 9. The Pleven Plan
  • 1. European Unity, Peace and Democracy
  • 2. The Santa Margherita Conference
  • 3. The Start of the Paris Conference for the EDC
  • 4. Toward the Turning Point
  • Chapter 10. The European Political Community Project
  • 1. Article 38
  • 2. The Atlantic Council in Lisbon
  • 3. The Ad hoc Assembly
  • Chapter 11. The Seeds of Peace
  • 1. The Start of the EDC Ratification Process, U.S. Support and the Problem of Trieste
  • 2. The European Political Community under Examination by the Governments
  • 3. Ut unum sint
  • 4. The Common European Heritage
  • Bibliography
  • I – Sources and Documents
  • II – Memories and testimonies
  • III – Monographs
  • IV – Collective Works
  • V – Essays
  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Index
  • Series index

Alcide De Gasperi:
European Founding Father

Daniela Preda

About the author

Daniela Preda is Full Professor at the University of Genoa, where she teaches Contemporary History and History of European Integration. She is Jean Monnet Chair ad personam in “History and Politics of European Integration”.

About the book

Alcide De Gasperi is universally recognized as a Founding Father of Europe, but his enlightened action in favour of European unification is little known outside of Italy.

At the beginning of the 1950s, he became one of the most steadfast advocates of a European federation as a response to the problems of peace in Europe and Franco-German reconciliation. Foreseeing the limits of functional integration, he strongly supported the creation of a European political community as a framework in which to insert the nascent communities. After retracing the fundamental stages in the Europeanist education of the political leader from Trentino, the book focuses on his determination in fighting to give constituent power to the European Defense Community (EDC) Assembly, to convene the ad hoc Assembly, charged with studying and drawing up a treaty for the European Political Community, and to gain approval for the treaty.

In a Europe that today is questioning its future, reflecting on De Gasperi’s thoughts and Europeanist actions means rediscovering the founding values of the process of European unification, its accompanying ideals, and the historical reasons that have given expression to it.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1. The Years of Political Education

1. Trentino: A Border Region

2. De Gasperi’s Cultural and Political Education

3. The Experience in the Multinational Parliament of Vienna

Chapter 2. The Interwar Period: The Long Eve

1. The Post-War Struggle in Favor of the Local Autonomies

2. Wilsonian Internationalism and the Encounter with Sturzo

3. The Vatican Period

Chapter 3. The Second War Period

1. Between War and Resistance

2. The Birth of Democrazia Cristiana and the Participation in the CLN

3. The Future Collaborators of the President

Chapter 4. The Reconstruction

1. The Return of Democracy

2. The First Foreign Policy Actions: the De Gasperi-Gruber Agreement and the U.S. Trip

3. The Peace Treaty

Chapter 5. The Start of European Unification

1. The Marshall Plan

2. The Italo-French Customs Union

3. The Brussels Pact ←7 | 8→

Chapter 6. The Western Turning Point and the Landing to Federalism

1. The 1948 Elections and the Start of a European Policy

2. Government and Movements: Various Strategies for a Common Goal

3. The Italian Proposals for Transforming the OEEC

4. Ideals: The Speech at the Grandes Conférences Catholiques

5. Pragmatism: the Conversations with Schuman and Spaak

Chapter 7. Europeanism and Atlanticism

1. Joining the Atlantic Pact

2. Europe and Peace: the Catholic Alternative to Atlanticism

3. The Council of Europe

Chapter 8. The Schuman Plan

1. A Political Choice

2. National Interests and European Integration

3. The Solution of the Technical Problems and the Ratification

Chapter 9. The Pleven Plan

1. European Unity, Peace and Democracy

2. The Santa Margherita Conference

3. The Start of the Paris Conference for the EDC

4. Toward the Turning Point

Chapter 10. The European Political Community Project

1. Article 38

2. The Atlantic Council in Lisbon

3. The Ad hoc Assembly

Chapter 11. The Seeds of Peace

1. The Start of the EDC Ratification Process, U.S. Support and the Problem of Trieste

2. The European Political Community under Examination by the Governments

3. Ut unum sint

4. The Common European Heritage ←8 | 9→

Bibliography

I – Sources and Documents

II – Memories and testimonies

III – Monographs

IV – Collective Works

V – Essays

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

Index ←9 | 10→ ←10 | 11→

Introduction

Alcide De Gasperi is universally considered a Founding Father of Europe. However, his Europeanist actions and thoughts are not well-known.

He perceived the historical significance of Europe and saw in the continent the natural development of the concept of nation to a size, continental, that would have included and not eliminated the individual states in a fertile co-existence among peoples of differing languages, traditions and religious faiths.

His position was at the same time idealistic and pragmatic, something he was well aware of: “History proceeds along two paths: one, that of rationality, that is, the representation of interests, the other that of idealism”.1 He was convinced that European integration was the new framework that could most effectively safeguard Italian interests and that the country’s economic well-being and political aspirations had to pass not through a sterile juxtaposition of separate nationalisms but through a revolutionary action of supranational unification.

His experience from being born and raised in a border region, part of a national minority within the composite Austro-Hungarian Empire, taught him to reject the opposing nationalisms and exalt the local autonomies as a defense against the central state, leading him to search for appropriate answers to the problem of the relationship between state and nation and to travel down a different road from that of traditional power politics, which had become obsolete.

Elected in 1911 to the Reichsrat, the multi-national parliament in Vienna, after the annexation of Trentino by Italy after the First World War he became an Italian citizen. In 1921 he was elected as a deputy to the Chamber of Deputies from don Sturzo’s People’s Party. While the irredentists labeled him an Austrian sympathizer, the Fascists accused him of being anti-patriotic. It is said that there was little of Italian in him, and there is a well-known self-description of him as “a Trentine loaned to Italy”. The debate regarding his detachment from Italian←11 | 12→ nationalism has continued over time. But it is that detachment, with all its implications for autonomy, the respect for other nations, and an aversion to any type of absolutism or exclusivism that makes him extraordinarily relevant today.

Over the years, while remaining firm in his desire for a united Europe, he changed his views regarding the means for its achievement, until finally arriving at the idea of a European federation.

At the start of the 20th century, De Gasperi referred to Christianity’s ecumenical and universal aspirations, to a united ideal of peoples encompassed by the same faith, the same ethical views, and a single set of laws. Faced with the approaching ominous signs of the general European crisis that would lead to the First World War, he clearly perceived the indispensable need for a supranational authority with spiritual and political powers, while at the same time remaining faithful to the idea of Christian unity and a model of a universal monarchy.

De Gasperi saw in the First and, even more so, the Second World Wars the failure of international diplomatic relations, balance of power politics, European integration, international congresses and inter-state organization.

Between the two wars he saw the withering away of the moral and political authority of the League of Nations as a precondition for a violent return of nationalism, sensing that the system of a European balance of power and partial and provisional agreements had to be replaced by one of stable integration, with permanent international bodies and not only organs of occasional arbitration. The new system should have supranational powers granted by states that were willing to limit their absolute sovereignty for the common interest, first and foremost peace. This period marked his change from a transnational conception to one that was not exclusively Catholic and that aimed at going beyond the absolute sovereignty of states in order to achieve closer coordination among the European states.2

At the end of the Second World War, Europe was already destined to become a reality, as Italy had been in the 19th century. Nevertheless, Europe not only required a foreign policy but represented for him an←12 | 13→ ideal virtue, one which was Utopian in a certain sense: Europe was “a community of spirits that went beyond the political and ethnic borders”.3

His pursuit of European unity matured in his search for the ways to ensure peace, overcome hegemonic forces, and achieve Franco-German reconciliation. Along the way he met with statesmen who shared with him those ideals and who had a similar background as his: Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer. All three were democrats, anti-Fascists and anti-Nazis, and in the interwar period all of them were forced to give up their public life. They were all men of high moral standards, with a broad cultural background and a deep political-social and spiritual awareness. They communicated with one another in German. Schuman was from Alsace-Lorraine and, like De Gasperi, a man of the border: born in the German Reich, after the First World War he became a French citizen. All three held the highest offices in their countries: De Gasperi was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1953 and Foreign Minister from 1944 to 1946 and 1951 to 1953; Schuman, French Prime Minister from 1947 to 1948 and Foreign Minister from 1948 to 1953, and Adenauer, German Chancellor from 1949 to 1963 and Foreign Minister from 1951 to 1957. All three were practicing Catholics and members of Christian social movements. However, De Gasperi rejected any accusation that he wanted to create a “Vatican” Europe. He wanted Europe to be based on a solid foundation of spiritual values, eschewing the illusory prospect of mere material profit, short-term compensation, embracing instead the more difficult but more long-lasting one of a political union. And in this arena, he would meet another exceptional companion: Paul Henri Spaak.

De Gasperi melded a variety of inputs into an entirely new plan, in the end accepting a non-sectarian Catholic internationalism in which he identified the historical synthesis of diverse ideological trends, each with its baggage of legal, social and spiritual elements aimed at promoting unity and peaceful collaboration among peoples. He acted in the awareness of being a leading player in historical changes that would determine the destiny of humanity, and in his actions he observed the new forces that had emerged as a result of the changes in Europe brought about by the Second World War.

Peace was at the center of his concerns, and he saw the European federation, a new frontier of national security, as a “myth of peace”. The federalist ideal increasingly took hold of him beginning in 1947, grafted,←13 | 14→ on the one hand, to a non-exclusivist and cosmopolitan Catholic tradition, and on the other to reflections that had matured in that secular circle from which he would find his most trusted collaborators in the international arena. The “contamination” of the secular natural law provided him with the appropriate institutional means to oppose the division of Europe into sovereign national states. Liberal Catholicism and social Christianity merged within him to resolve, once and for all, the Risorgimento conflict.

De Gasperi considered the political community as a fundamental condition for the European community. He would go far beyond a generic acceptance of the Europeanist ideal in his actions to achieve a united Europe, giving a true leap in quality to the unification process. He would not limit himself to uncritically jumping on the French functionalist bandwagon; instead, he worked unhesitatingly to achieve a federal Europe with strong links to the Atlantic world.

In the last years of his life, he dedicated enormous energy to the European cause. Beginning in 1951, the European federation would become the most important objective of his political activity. “This is our ideal, our strength”,4 a cornerstone that requires “faith”; simple “diplomatic paperwork” was not enough.5 Peace was at the center of his concerns, and he saw the European federation as a “myth of peace”. His support for the European Community matured in the wake of his search for the path to achieve peace, overcome hegemonic forces, and bring about Franco-German reconciliation. In his role as Prime Minister, which would be supplemented by that of foreign minister, he quickly gave his support to the Schuman Plan, appointing as head of the Italian delegation to the Paris Conference (a clearly “political” choice) a staunch Europeanist, Paolo Emilio Taviani; fought hard for the EDC and the creation of a European statehood during the meetings in Strasbourg in December 1951; and led to victory the boldest idea, falling in line with the federalist thought developed in those years and accepting all its claims, from the central idea of the European Constituent Assembly, whose basic outline he managed to get included in Article 38 of the EDC treaty, to the setting of precise commitments and deadlines for carrying out the constitutional studies entrusted to the EDC Assembly (later to become the ad hoc Assembly), to the desire to keep closely in the hands of the government the ratification process for the statute of the European Political Community, thereby←14 | 15→ avoiding the quicksand of diplomatic conferences, in which the interests of the individual states inexorably tend to prevail over those of the collective interests.

Details

Pages
354
ISBN (PDF)
9782807606951
ISBN (ePUB)
9782807606968
ISBN (MOBI)
9782807606975
ISBN (Softcover)
9782807601314
Language
English
Publication date
2018 (April)
Published
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2018. 350 p.

Biographical notes

Daniela Preda (Author)

Daniela Preda is Full Professor at the University of Genoa, where she teaches Contemporary History and History of European Integration. She is Jean Monnet Chair ad personam in "History and Politics of European Integration".

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Title: Alcide de Gasperi:European Founding Father