Celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome marked a significant event for mobilisation both in Italy and the entire EU.
We are now experiencing an alliance between those who have not previously crossed paths: lined up together behind the “Our Europe” banner, we hope to disrupt the balance of terror represented by nationalism and the elite. It is a force that we have defined “radically European” in order to change a history that risks repeating itself and taking us back to a past full of war and divisions.
Even the first time around, sixty years ago, the establishment of the integration process between the first European countries came almost exclusively in the form of common market regulations. There was no pooling of shared principles of solidarity and social justice. The subsequent Maastricht Treaty only served to remove rights, subjugating first the world of work and then democracy itself to the rules on competitiveness.
Whilst the economic and political elites managed to get organised and impose the most advantageous political decisions for themselves on a European scale, the forces that should have united, to defend and expand on the progress made after decades of struggle, stayed behind their own walls. They naively hoped that they would be given the opportunity to confront their opponents during a one-to-one negotiation between national political representatives. These representatives were either incapacitated or too selfish, and so this strategy proved useless in defending their own areas, often to the detriment of all European workers. The latter have seen a loss of purchasing power in their salaries and worsening living conditions.
Today, we find ourselves facing two opposite and symbiotic standpoints: on the one hand, the “business as usual” government approach that, before a loss of credibility and support from the population for a united Europe, is trying to keep its policies the same, or rather, it wants to accelerate those of armament and fiscal compact; on the other hand, the fleeting refuge in a return to the national state, often coloured by xenophobia and racism.
This is why transform! europe has come together with a wide and varied coalition made up of social and political figures, who are promoting a third way. It is a coalition made up of trade unions, citizen associations, social centres, political organisations and movements, and farmers’ and feminist networks that are reclaiming our rights to “Our Europe”.
We are aiming to put the people and the defence of rights, arduously acquired in previous years through struggles in work, civil and social life, back at the heart of European construction. Such achievements brought about the welfare state system, albeit in varying forms in each country, for which Europe flew the flag and acted as a point of reference for states all over the world.
The economic crisis was caused and even used by an economic model that puts wealth in the hands of 1% of the population, abandoning the planet to poverty and destruction.
This has not yet provoked a response or reaction capable of turning the tide of social disaster. Instead, the wave of rejection towards this economic model seems intent on channelling itself in the direction of reactionary nationalism rather than progressive coalitions.
In Italy too, where a profound European sentiment has always existed, the space offered to those who would like a return to territorial sovereignty is expanding. It occurs as the EU insists on proposing short-sighted responses to economic and social issues.
However, Europe is not a place for mobilisation. It is not perceived by the citizens of member states, who are ever more disillusioned and impoverished, capable of intervening in their lives. This is why we considered the attempt for mobilisation to be a “must” on 25th March.
We accepted the challenge of not leaving the square and abandoning it to the official parade on the one hand, and the reactionary shove on the other. We did so starting out with a roll call of the many people who feel disappointed and betrayed by the dream of a peaceful Europe of social justice, including those who have always fought against the EU. Not forgetting the individuals who look up at walls and barbed wire, used to turn away those who want to enter and trap those within. This process grew gradually and acquired a self-awareness step by step: an awareness of its own convictions and its capability to contextualise those questions embodied by every individual within the European framework.
In this way, mobilisation has become a form of public expression. We chose to come together, in one place, to tell the many sides of our story and our proposals for change.
At the La Sapienza University of Rome, we held approximately twenty initiatives ranging from topical meetings to seminars. The Mediterranean event took place with representatives of European and North African civil society movements, including Messaoud Romdhani, representative of the Tunisian association that won the Nobel Peace Prize. For the Palestinian discussion, there were representatives from Israel and Palestine; for that on migrants, the organisations that take care of immigration in Italy and Europe were present. For agricultural policies, the European coordinators of Via Campesina participated; at the meeting of European organised voluntary associations, there was the Erasmus Student Network, amongst others. The meeting on the establishment of a Europe for the people involved Gregor Gysi, President of the Party of the European Left and Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. For the issue of the role of women, a large network of feminist organisations and associations took part. Also, further events dedicated to the role of cities and small municipalities, civil society organisations, environmental issues, carbon neutrality and peace were held.
Alongside those referred to above, another dozen initiatives were promoted within the city. Here only a couple of the main ones are mentioned. There was the presence of an Our Europe delegation at the Ardeatine graves on 24th March, to mark the anniversary of the Nazi massacre of 330 civilians in 1944. Through this, we remember that anti-fascism is one of the pillars upon which any idea of European construction must be based. Just as significant was the initiative promoted by Médecins sans Frontières on the banks of the Tiber, to keep the attention focused on those missing in the Mediterranean, taking on a one-way journey to flee from famine and warfare.
On 25th March, whilst the heads of state were gathered at the Campidoglio to commemorate the 60th anniversary and sign up to the relaunching of an establishment that is no longer relevant, thousands lined up behind the “La Nostra Europa” (Our Europe) banner. Alongside many who had come to join us from outside Italy, we made it clear that mobilisation had succeeded on a European and international level. In the march that set out from Piazza Vittorio, a place of symbolic significance for multiculturalism in Rome, citizens and politicians stood side by side; farmers and migrants were joined by the Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, the General Secretary of CGIL (the Italian General Confederation of Labour, a large trade union), the DiEM25 network with Varoufakis, and representatives of the Party of the European Left. The march ended by the Colosseum, the city’s iconic monument. Here we were joined by the European Federalist’s “March for Europe,” also asking today’s Europe to use social justice and democracy to rebuild itself.
We are experiencing an alliance between those who have not previously crossed paths, allowing us to envisage the potential establishment of a force capable of disrupting the balance of terror represented by nationalism and the elite. It is a force that we have defined “radically European” in order to change a history that risks repeating itself and taking us back to a past full of war and divisions. We are laying claim to our united, democratic and strong Europe – “La Nostra Europa”.