Starting afresh from Schuman?

The European University Institute promoted a four-day reflection on the future of integration. New challenges, possible ways out

Notable politicians, scholars and intellectuals gathered for a four-day meeting in Florence to discuss about Europe (May 6-9). The international event is an initiative of the European University Institute (EUI) meant as an occasion “to describe reality as it is” from the standpoint of academic analysis, to contribute to the commitment of policymakers and to try to focus on future challenges in order to “prevent the problems” as explained by EUI president J.H.H. Weiler. The themes of this fifth edition were the relationship between supervision and freedom; the role of Europe and in the world; a programmatic reflection on Europe, with the proposal of a “new Schuman declaration”. A special session was devoted to the figure of Alcide De Gasperi with the inauguration of the new Alcide De Gasperi Research Centre on the history of European integration, located at the Villa Salviati, in Italy’s art heritage city, seat of EU Historical Archives and of EUI. All speeches can be viewed on the EUI website (stateoftheunion.eui.eu). The failure of surveillance. “It is high time to dismantle mass surveillance”. Martin Scheinin, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, responsible of the multidisciplinary research project “Surveille” conducted in recent years by EUI, thus summarized the outcomes of the meeting. In fact, for economists, “the probability of dying of a terrorist attack is so low that it is not worth all the money that is spent in dubious efforts marginally to reduce that probability”. It is a fact confirmed by data scientists who claim, “proper identification of real terrorists through mass surveillance is doomed to fail”. And while from an ethical angle is it described as a “moral hazard”, for lawyers “mass surveillance amounts to legally impermissible intrusions into the fundamental rights of privacy and data protection”. The alternative is that the fight against terrorism and crime adopt targeted surveillance for the identification of sensitive targets. As the EU envisions the possibility of identifying surveillance technology “privacy by design” standards, namely, privacy and data protection a priori in information and communication systems for individual protection without renouncing individual security. Safe channels for legal migration. The major challenges for the future of Europe according to Scheinin, who presented on behalf of the EUI the State of the Union Address, follow three avenues. Migration: an idea that is “out of this world” was presented by Heads of government and State on the Special Meeting of the European Council on 23 April to “destroy vessels” in order to address the migration emergency in the Mediterranean, since “there is no way to prevent the destruction of human lives”, of civilians. The sustainable solution is to create multiple and sufficient channels for safe and regular migration, to ensure the arrival of people that “Europe needs”. The same point was highlighted by the Vice President of the EU Commission Frans Timmermans, who declared: “The fundamental challenge for EU citizens” is “to fight the process of de-humanization underway in Europe” and accept the “assumption that every single human being is entitled to the same protection in law and the same treatment as other citizens and institutions”. Climate and justice. Then there is the challenge of climate. In order to “repair human-induced damage” with the exploitation of fossil fuels, the solution “is shockingly simple, and technologically we are close to it. For Scheinin it’s the sustainable use of solar energy, that would also respond to the need for “empowerment and justice” in some world regions, facilitating democracy and equality. The appeal to the EU is to “step up its commitment” going “beyond national and corporate interests” in the development and use of solar technology. The third challenge for the EU is to be the one player in world politics as a “value-based”, non-hegemonic actor, promoting Global Justice”. A pre-requisite is for Europe to be “honest” in the quest for global justice, showing “coherence across various policy domains” and across a whole range of fora. A new Schuman Declaration? The European project starts afresh from Florence with a new declaration which limiting the ideal bearing of Schuman’s Declaration may provide vital prospects to a European process weakened by the crisis, by insecurity and selfishness. The document focuses on seven areas to be reconsidered in terms of European solidarity: the “social and health protection” of citizens through the creation of a common fund for subsidiary interventions; the creation of a common urban policy (PUC), being the majority of the European population in the cities; the definition of an energy union and a union of European defense, considering that “national sovereignty” in these areas “is an illusion”; a sense of citizenship founded on democratic participation in political structures of the EU; legal immigration policies that bear witness to the belief in the inviolability of human dignity (and meet the demographic needs of Europe).

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