Firenze, 9 novembre 2012

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From the 8th to the 11th of November, Florence hosted a big citizens’ agora, made up of trade unions, student movements and other organizations from all over the continent, to debate future perspectives and common actions to take part in European politics. DAG MEDIA correspondent Eliana Capretti interviewed Pier-Virgilio Dastoli, Italian President of the “European Movement” (CIME), one of the main actors on the European organizations’ scene.

Q – About four thousand political campaigners, trade unionists and environmental activists from across Europe and the Middle East just met in Florence for the 10th anniversary of the first European Social Forum, a three-day conference on the present socio-economic situation in the EU. You were among them, to represent the “European Movement”. Did you attend the first European Social Forum that took place in 2002? Ten Years after it, what do you think has changed?

Unfortunately I wasn’t in Florence ten years ago but I have followed the main initiatives of European civil society since 1995 and so I know the state of civil societies (I like more the plural than the singular, in this case) in Europe. In principle, the feeling, well, it’s only a feeling, that means a pre-political approach, well, this feeling of a necessity of a supranational dimension is quite widespread among the militants, much more than ten years ago. But there is always a deep gap between this feeling I just mentioned and the comprehension that participatory and representative democracy are complementary and not opposed to one another.

Q – When in 2002 European networks met here in Florence, a few analists warned that the economic and financial globalization would result in a major crisis. Today, the crisis is the reality we, Europeans, live in. What would you like the European institutions to do in that respect?

Ten years later, we know that globalisation was at the same time a bad and a good thing. It was bad because of the primacy of finance and good because of globalisation of human rights (but still, it’s not enough!), about the so-called society of knowledge (just think of internet and the Arab spring for example), or look at the larger diffusion of democracy and the decrease of poverty. But the industrial countries and regions had failed to avoid the risks of globalisation and the EU is the first actor that failed. The European Union has to make a step towards a more supranational dimension and faciliate the regional integration in other regions in the world too, like Africa, Latin America, Asia.

Q – And what about European citizens? Do they really have a chance to affect the priorities of those institutions and how?

They have to be more active! Somebody wrote after the Florence meeting that the best way to fight against the financial egemony is abstentionism but that’s a very stupid idea. Let’s try to understand the urgent necessity of European democracy and use the powers given by the European Treaties: consultation, dialogue and citizens pre-legislative initiatives, not only to open the way to new legislation but also to get a proper “empowerment” at the European level.

Q – A few weeks ago, the European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace, security, democracy and freedom to its inhabitants, which now include 500 million people. Still, the demonstrations and protests we see across the continent put in black and white the remarkable contradictions of the EU. In your opinion, what would be the key to solve those contradictions, today?

As I explained before: a concrete and ambitious step towards a new prosperity and a new European democracy, under a representative and participatory point of view.

Q – I have noticed from your latest speeches and interviews that you do have a suggestion on how European citizens should express their view concerning the Nobel Peace Price. And there’a a bottom-up proposition that has been collecting more and more supporters online, especially on facebook. Would you like to tell us what is going on and why?

Jeremy Rifkin said: the Nobel Prize is for the people that invented the European Dream, the fathers, but also the mothers of the Federalist idea and among them Altiero Spinelli. But Spinelli has died in 1986 and so Rifkin said: let Pier Virgilio Dastoli, his former assistant, take the Nobel Prize in Oslo. In five days, this “positive provocation” collected 5000 signatures. We have to mobilize these people in favour of the United States of Europe! That means three things: a project, the Europeand Federation, to guarantee common goods at European level; a method, the constituent assembly; and an agenda, which would consist in a specific deadline: the next European elections, in June 2014.

Q – One last question, before letting you go. You had the chance to work for several years with Altiero Spinelli, the author of the Ventotene Manifesto, one of the founding fathers of the European Union. What do you think his concrete political priorities would be, if he were still with us today? And if he were a young Turkish student or activist, would he campaign to enter the EU or maybe this Europe is not ready for Turkey… yet?

First, his priority could be to convince the European Parliament to play a constituant role and secondly he would say to the Turkish people: keep your responsability and let Turkey enter the EU but to change it and allow it to include Turkey in the European Union.