“There’s still not full democracy in the EU. The European Parliament, which represents the citizens and peoples of Europe, still has too little clout in comparison with the Council”, on which the representatives of the governments sit. “What’s needed is a more democratic Europe, which grows from the grassroots”, says Carlo Casini, long-standing MEP and chairman of the Committee for Constitutional Affairs of the EP. His curriculum is varied: lawyer, magistrate, councillor of Italy’s Court of Appeal. He has campaigned for the war against drugs and terrorism, in favour of international adoptions and, more generally, in support of issues linked to the family. He is still president of the Pro-Life Movement in Italy. A convinced supporter of the European Union, he is now devoting his attention to the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, which recently came into force to reform Europe’s institutions and give greater effectiveness to the Twenty-Seven. Gianni Borsa of SIR met him in Madrid, during the assembly of COSAC, the Conference of organizations specialized in Community affairs of the parliaments of EU member states.Signor Casini, you spoke of a Europe that must grow from the grassroots… But at what point is the process of integration?“The process is going forwards, with many successes already behind it. No one can deny that a very long period of peace has been registered in Europe and that war is not even conceivable in our continent today. And then there’s the progress of democracy, the rule of law, many years of development and the overcoming of the political division between East and West. Yet nothing can ever be taken for granted: it’s enough to think of the recent conflicts in the Balkans. Nonetheless, the EU is proceeding in progressive stages and Lisbon is one of them”.What came out of the COSAC assembly, where national parliaments and the European Parliament debated the Lisbon Treaty?“According to the terms of the Treaty, national parliaments are now more involved in the activity of the Union. A specific mechanism is in fact provided to verify that the Union only intervenes when action at the European level can be shown to be more effective: this is the so-called principle of subsidiarity and it also regards the national parliaments. I am convinced that a positive concept of subsidiarity has emerged from our meeting in Madrid. The parliaments of the Twenty-Seven, in fact, should not only operate to block or change a new EU law that conflicts with the interests of member states or the powers of their national parliaments; they ought also to indicate to the EU the issues on which Europe should legislate. They should thus assume a role of propulsion. This is the way to achieve deeper integration. In my view, parliaments should also collaborate with their own governments and constantly encourage them to operate for the construction for Europe”. We are speaking of parliaments, governments, treaties… But does Europe have politicians equal to the challenges that await them?“Let’s say that to promote the European project everyone must play his/her part and in this sense high-calibre and authoritative political figures are needed, men and women who are convinced of the benefits of this process. If we are to proceed in this direction I think we could at least begin to reflect on the opportuneness of a direct election of the President of the European Council or the President of the Commission”.Apart from that, any other ideas?“I certainly recognize the importance of giving rise to parties at the European level. Today, instead, we have political groups in the European Parliament, which are the sum of national parties. The result is that the hemicycle is fragmented, and the lack of political families that citizens and public opinion can easily recognize or identify with is keenly felt”.There is much talk today of European “economic governance” to respond more effectively to the crisis. What’s your view of that?“I’m convinced that this could be a decisive response to prevent or curb crises and to defend our model of development. But without a strong political governance, a closer economic collaboration is destined to remain on paper”.And on enlargement, what’s your view?“In principle I agree with the idea that the political Europe should embrace the whole continent, so as to reinforce the area of peace, democracy and development. But in this phase of adjustment of the Union I think it’s necessary to proceed gradually and with caution”. Treaty, identity and sovereignty: meetings in EuropeA “tour” in some European capitals to examine central aspects of the Lisbon Treaty and its repercussions on the political and legislative activity of the EU: with this in mind, the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, chaired by Carlo Casini, has defined a calendar of visits that begins on 10-11 June with a meeting between a delegation of the EU body and the corresponding committee of the German Parliament: at the centre of the talks will be in particular the problems raised by the ruling of the German Constitutional Court with regard to the reform treaty that came into force on 1st December 2009, as also the questions on sovereignty and identity, both at the national and Community level.
High-calibre political figures are needed