Berlin 27/11/2007

"Resolving the long-standing issue of opposing visions of the European project. Creating a new common political will" - Humboldt University


"Resolving the long-standing issue of opposing visions of the European project.Creating a new common political will"

Humboldt University
(Berlin, 27 November 2007)


I am particularly pleased to take the floor in this historic University which has been a major forum in recent years for analysing and sending out important messages on the issues of the construction and the future of Europe.
In my invitation I noted a sign of acknowledgement of the role played by Italy since that long distant 1950, on the long road of European integration, and to a greater extent a mark of interest in the contribution that Italy can continue making in a new phase of reflection and engagement. But I should like to seize on this attention and these expectations at once to say that Italy still sees always Europe as the natural place for her development and presence in the world. And I say this knowing - in my present institutional position - that I am expressing feelings and thinking rooted and widespread in the national community.
However, I believe that I can address myself to you - in this home of study and unfettered debate - with less official and diplomatic arguments and tones, and on a more strictly personal level. I would therefore ask you to allow me to speak to you not so much as Head of State, as a convinced advocate of the European cause.
I hope that this profession of pro-European faith does not come as a surprise to you and that you will understand what it means. I fear that for some time now, people have ceased to feel the enthusiasm that had originally characterised the construction of Europe and subsequently made possible to overcome the difficulties and supersede periods of crisis. This enthusiasm must not be viewed as trite rhetoric; it was the result of a profound awareness of Europe's responsibilities, proudly claiming Europe's role, clear-sightedly acknowledging Europe's mistakes and farsightedly looking ahead to the new prospects to be opened up and pursued.
Today, however, too many politicians, and even the leaders of some European Union member states, appear fearful of identifying with the ideals of the Schuman Declaration, and the spirit, if not the letter, of the appeals for a European Federation, and that United States of Europe which enlightened thinkers and statesman had envisaged in the aftermath of the Second World War, if not earlier.
Yet it is important for us not to stifle the very spirit that underlay the origins of European integration. And it is even more important to express a rightful pride in the endeavour that emerged from this - the most innovative and most tangibly successful political project that has ever been designed and pursued anywhere in the world in the latter half of the 20th century. The fact that in other continents regional integration objectives are now being announced, taking their inspiration from the European model, should tell us a great deal.


The road along which we have been travelling here for over fifty years has been neither easy or linear, but has encountered standstills and ever-new developments, moving forward more expeditiously in certain periods than in others. Historians have quite rightly spoken about the "European adventure", but it has been an "adventure" embarked upon with wisdom and determination. And the essential purpose has been to preserve the leitmotif that has been called "the Community invention", namely, the decision to build up a united Europe by creating and consolidating new institutions, to which to entrust the hitherto untried task of managing shared sovereign powers and - with the active participation of the nation states - implement common economic and social development projects, firstly in six countries, and then in all the others which subsequently subscribed that task as their own.
Underlying the "community invention" there was naturally the conviction that the Community represented a universe of values and historical experiences: no more and no less, that is to say, than European civilisation itself, in its loftiest expressions and with its greatest achievements, up to the establishment of the Liberal state based on the rule of law and representative democracy. There were no doubts, at the beginning, regarding the objective soundness of such benchmarks as a common European culture and identity, or the mission to which the integration project was devoted: to express European self-awareness in a potentially ever-widening area.
This forms the core of the fundamental convictions that we have to translate, today, into a new common political will which constitutes the true condition and guarantee for the effective consolidation and advancement of the Union, which has just emerged from a difficult and lengthy institutional period of stalemate. A strong enough political will to overcome the factors and risks of a more deep-seated crisis in the integration process.
I have certainly not drawn your attention to the persistent vitality of the original spirit driving this process because I am not already well aware of everything that has changed and still remains to be changed. Many of the goals have been attained, and others have since emerged and require fine-tuning. The motivations of previous periods in our history have to be supplemented with the requirements of unity dictated by the new international context. And these are powerful demands which are manifestly urging us on to continue in the same direction.
The primary emphasis must therefore be on appraising what has already been achieved, and which seems to have been virtually assimilated by the younger generations as a "gift of providence" rather than as the results of a project and a method based on the common political will which the leaders and institutions representing a growing number of European countries have succeeded in demonstrating. At the same time we must robustly draw attention to today's challenges that Europe is being called upon to address. They stem from changes and tensions in the international situation. The political leaders of the member states not only know these new challenges by name and substance, but they also acknowledge their scope which exceeds the possibilities of individual nation states to intervene and respond to them. But - and this is the point I wish to make - there is a reluctance to draw the necessary conclusions from that, due to a lack of a common political will and old and new objections to opposition to essential aspects of the European project.


And I should like to emphasise this in the wake of the debate that led to the unanimous agreement at last June's European Council, and subsequently at the Intergovernmental Conference.
Let me make it quite clear that I share the general conviction that it is thanks to the wise and dogged commitment of the German Presidency that such a crucially important result has been achieved. It was impossible to allow the institutional stalemate to continue without serious risk and damage. In too many areas, there was a sense of alarm about a Europe that had become fatally stalled, incapable of rising up again, and this is what some hoped would happen.
As far as we are concerned, we had never forgotten the warning of Jean Monnet on the subject of the troubled path to European construction: "Nothing would be more dangerous than to confuse difficulties with failure". But there was no confusion. We knew the depth of the foundations of the construction of Europe and that there was no doubt about Europe's survival. We trusted that the stalemate following the failure to ratify the Constitutional Treaty by a major group of states, beginning with France, would be put behind us, and we hoped that an agreement could be reached without serious sacrifices.
It is therefore fair to say that the substance of the 2004 Treaty has been salvaged; according to the experts' "comprehensive" calculations, 90% of the innovations introduced into the Constitutional Treaty have been taken up again.
What does deserve serious thought, then, is something else. Not so much the specific consequences of the measures adopted to adjust the Constitutional Treaty which inevitably had to be accepted, but rather the stances expressed by refusing to ratify the Constitution and the demands to have it amended.
What was the significance of doing away with the name, the symbols, the words and the provisions that had a "constitutional flavour"? What was the meaning of the declaration which stated that the wording taken up again in the Reform Treaty on the common foreign and security policy "does not affect the competencies of the member states or their representatives in third countries and in international organisations"? What did it mean where it referred to deferring the system of the double majority vote on the Council for several years after its entry into force, or the repeated demand that national parliaments be able to block the legislative proposals of the European Commission?
There was certainly one, and only one, reason for all this pressure and all these reservations that we had to address in order to "salvage the substance of the Constitutional Treaty": to head off or curb the attribution of new tasks and new powers to the European institutions. This has once again raised an issue in the 27 member state Union which has emerged several times in the past, and has never been resolved: the coexistence and juxtaposition of different visions of the European project.
There is something in the positions adopted by some member states that suggests a harking back to the past. In some quarters, giving up the Constitutional Treaty is seen as a "return to realism", or even "to reason". But does this mean that between 2001 and 2004 Europe navigated in "unreality" or "unreason"? In the Laeken Declaration the decision to work for a Constitutional Treaty stemmed from the need to answer urgent questions about the future of Europe.


We cannot forget that the simultaneous process of the "great enlargement" of the Union had suggested, first and foremost, the need to reaffirm and reformulate the principles, values, and objectives of the European integration project to which countries from widely differing ideological and international backgrounds, and with completely different national systems, were about to accede. The Constitution was seen as a unifying factor, and to a certain extent as an opportunity to re-found the European integration project which had finally been opened up to the whole continent.
Secondly, the decision to expand the membership of the Union to such a significant degree made it essential to define new institutional arrangements and decision-making mechanisms to avoid paralysing or weakening the integration process.
This is how the plan for the Constitutional Treaty was designed. Those were the reasons for it and that was its ambition. The edifice of European construction had to be empowered to bear the weight of the "great enlargement" and adopt what was by now an explicitly Constitutional character, to crown its fifty years of incremental and de facto development.
The united Europe had to be sanctioned as a community based on the rule of law, a community of values, and increasingly as an original political entity. This is the prospect which we must be committed to keeping open, above and beyond any agreement juridically concluded at Lisbon.
That agreement made it possible to salvage the "innovative tools" - as President Giscard d'Estaing recently described them - drafted by the Brussels Convention (including a stable Council Presidency and the new post of Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union, albeit under a different name). These have been scattered, according to Giscard d'Estaing, among three sets of amendments to the old Treaties, complicating and not simplifying the new Treaty to be ratified, making it more and not less legible, while the "toolbox" has remained the same as before.
The Constitution, moreover, so painstakingly negotiated over two and a half years was not only a "toolbox", confirming that the institutions are not only means, but also encompass ends, the sphere of goals. And it is precisely the question of goals, ambitions, the shape of integration that has emerged blurred by the failed ratifications of the Constitutional Treaty and by the discussions preceding and following them.
But there can be no return to the past, whether for serious or for trivial reasons of dissent. The European Community has been able to live and develop so long as it has looked forward, avoiding becoming bogged down in provisional compromises that could ultimately paralyse it, or lingering on - as President François Mittérand said in a previous phase in the life of the Community in 1984 - a few "obsédants contentieux" and "querelles dérisoires".


The issue of the relationship between the European common interest and national interests, and in more general terms the relationship between the Union and the nation states is - as we all know - as old as the European Community itself, in the sense that it has been present throughout its history. Indeed, it is natural for there to be an ongoing dialectical relationship between the Union and the member states, to strike a fair balance on a case-by-case basis. But there is a limit which must not be exceeded, to avoid thwarting the plan for a Europe as a project that is not merely for cooperation between sovereign states but for effective and incremental integration which is ultimately bound to lead to political union. A tendency is now emerging to deny the validity and topical relevance of the very notion of "intergovernmental drift"; yet this is a recurrent risk, a risk of tipping the balance - in relations between the Union and the nation states - which is compatible with the nature of the European project as an integration project. It would be naive or evasive to refuse to admit that this risk has become increasingly more serious since the signing of the Constitutional Treaty and is in contradiction to it.
An "intergovernmental drift" will inevitably lead us further away from the ultimate purpose of creating a strong Europe which is capable of taking forward effective common policies and establishing Europe as a global player on the international stage. The more grudgingly we attribute powers and resources to the European institutions, the more we demonstrate a lack of support for these ends and goals. In June 2005 one of the most committed pro-European leaders, Jean-Claude Juncker, ending the Luxembourg six-month Presidency, reported to the European Parliament on the controversial outcome of the negotiations on the financial perspectives of the Union, in the following terms:
"We have seen two confronting conceptions of Europe: a conception that relies solely on the virtues of the market, which is incapable of producing solidarity, and a conception that relies solely on more extensive political integration"; between "those who believe that Europe as it is now has already taken a step too far, and those, like myself, who believe that it must go much, much further."
It is now essential to clarify these substantive issues, above all through a more open discussion between the supporters of both these conceptions. No one, at this present moment, will benefit from deliberate pretence.
We have to be more candid in the debate between the partners of the Union and between the different visions which they hold, and be more frank in the dialogue with our citizens.


The idea of the European Federation was a fundamental source of inspiration for embarking on and developing the community, and subsequently the Union. It never entailed bringing about the natural death or the deliberate emptying of the nation states, and it certainly not be exorcised by brandishing the spectre of a European Superstate! This unidentified object which is causing the Eurosceptics so many sleepless nights is the exact opposite of the idea of a Federation, which, by its very nature, is incompatible with the elimination of differences.
It was Jacques Delors who suggested the "Federation of Nation States" formula, in order to overcome the error of seeing a contradiction, but certainly bearing in mind the readiness of the member states to decide to restrict their own powers in some essential fields, and helping to strengthen the exercise of shared sovereignty at the supranational level.
From the beginning, the "founding fathers" had emphasised that the Council - as the forum for representing the nation states - was "the meeting point between two sovereignties, one national, and the other supranational", with the "paramount task not of safeguarding the national interests of the member states but of promoting the interests of the Community". These were the words spoken by Konrad Adenauer in 1952, while on the subject of relations between the Council and the Commission, Jean Monnet spoke of an "authentically federal balance". Many years later, in 1974, following the informal summit meetings between the Heads of State and Government, the European Council was established. Once again, Monnet was one of the great advocates behind that decision, believing that it was necessary "to return to the sources of power" in order to give Europe the authority which the Community institutions, as they existed at that time, were unable to guarantee on their own, and to open up the path to move beyond the economic union, and to "a more complete and deeper union - whether federal or confederal, I wouldn't know". And this led to the establishment of the European Council, and the simultaneous decision - of obvious major significance - to introduce the direct election by universal suffrage of Members of the European Parliament.
I wanted to recall that long distant precedent to highlight the fact that sight has never been lost of the sense of the contribution which the nation states have to make within the framework of the Treaties throughout the course of building up Europe. And I also wanted to do so to show how the idea of the European Council as the driving force behind the construction of the Community re-emerged, 30 years later, with the proposal for a stable Presidency of the Council, which is not juxtaposed on the Commission, interfering with its prerogatives, and which dialogues with the European Parliament in full respect for its enhanced lawmaking powers and powers of scrutiny.
No one ever wanted a European Super-state in the past, then. And it is precisely the Constitutional Treaty - and now the Reform Treaty - more than any other previous Treaty, which laid down the limitations on and drew specific distinctions between the competencies of the nation states and the Union, to guarantee an effective and efficient role for the Council of Heads of State and Government.
Today, and in the near future, it will nevertheless have to truly perform the role of a "locomotive".
A locomotive, above all, for implementing adequate common policies. We may rightly say that in the present phase this is the point from which Europe must set out again and find renewed vigour. We can now consider the two years of disputes over the Constitution to be over thanks to last June's European Council, in the hope, and I would course like to say, in the certainty, that the ratification of the Reform Treaty by the 27 member states will harbour no surprises or unexpected reversals to which we would be forced to react with more drastic decisions.
Let us therefore focus our attention on the necessary and possible revival of Europe's - and hence the Union's - capacity to put forward proposals and to take action. The agenda is now clear. Over this past year in particular, an agreement has been struck at the European Council and on the Commission regarding on which directions - in other words, in response to which awesome challenges - common policies must be framed or reframed, made tangible and taken forward, in a way that will foster the growth and cohesion of Europe's economies and societies, and affirm the role of Europe as a global player in an increasingly changing world.


Let me briefly mention the areas in which it has been agreed to make decisive and tangible progress.
Firstly, the responses to the challenge of globalisation, as indicated in the Commission Note regarding the October meeting of Heads of State and Government. We must avoiding placing Europe on the defensive, losing ground and seriously backsliding as a result of globalisation. On the other hand we must succeed in influencing the course of that process. The European Council last March also adopted major indications for strengthening the internal market and Europe's competitiveness and innovation, research and education/training, promoting employment, and modernising and strengthening the European social model. In essence, it reiterated, and with greater vigour, the Lisbon Strategy within the framework of which a locomotive function was to be performed by the Eurozone. And in the recent Commission Note which I have just mentioned, major general problems have also been raised: guaranteeing the stability of the financial markets which are becoming increasingly globalised, removing the obstacles to trade and investment by opening up markets worldwide, and laying down common rules for the operation of the worldwide market.
But the greatest novelty in 2007, thanks to the advocacy of the German Presidency, was certainly the launching of a fundamental new common policy: an integrated climate and energy policy which is vital to Europe and of extreme importance to the world at large. This is a truly crucial challenge to which it is impossible to respond on a national basis. And in its case there is no other option but take up a common European-level approach and commitment.
Equally, there would appear to be no other option but to adopt a common European response to the challenge of migration. The main component parts of a common European migration policy were identified long ago: combating illegal immigration and human beings trafficking, opening up and regulating legal channels for the entry and stay of immigrants, and establishing a partnership with the countries of origin and transit of migration flows.
Lastly, there is the challenge that epitomises them all to a certain extent, and re-frames, in comparison with the experience of the past 50 years, the mission given to Europe: the possible new phase of European integration. I am speaking of the challenge of international security and a new and more just world order. And this response has a name that we have known for a long time: a common foreign, security and defence policy. Progress has certainly been made, but we are still very far from the essential level of presence and credibility that Europe needs to become an acknowledged player and really to count in a world riven with many serious tensions and experiencing huge changes in the balances between the major powers and between different areas of the world. Today there is perhaps an increasing awareness of all that, in the daily task of addressing crises, outbreaks of fighting, and problematic and risky choices that have to be made in the international community. And in the Reform Treaty we have saved the commitment to create a new representative of the Union's foreign and security policy, equipping it with the instrument it needs to provide a service "for external action". But will a decisive move be made in this direction?
I am not asking this question out of scepticism, but as an appeal to a common political will which is still lacking.


Let us therefore be quite clear about this: it is right to focus on policies, on guidelines for action to respond to the challenges I have just mentioned. But we also have to realise that this is now the test bed of the European Union's ability not merely to wearily survive, but to measure up to its responsibilities; the test bed of its capacity to effectively use the new instruments laid down before the Constitutional Treaty - now the Reform Treaty - the test bed of its capacity to truly express a common political will. Ultimately, the test bed of its capacity to resolve the long-standing problem of the conflicting visions of the European project, to prevent progress from being inevitably conditioned by some of the forces that are still holding out, and pressing in a minimalist and restrictive sense vis-à-vis every step forward in the construction of Europe.
The time available for this verification and perhaps for adopting other approaches is fairly limited. Europe is not being renewed, and is not growing as global competition demands. We cannot overestimate the outcomes of the Lisbon Strategy, minimising the delays and concealing the obstacles that it has encountered, and is still encountering. And this is also bearing down on the resolutions that have been adopted, on important clearly defined policies; the unpredictability of the clashes that may prolong or block Europe's path forward in the institutional passages between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council. I just referred briefly to the question of immigration: how much of the programme approved by the 1999 Tampere Council, how many of the measures proposed to lay down common standards for illegal immigration have been blocked for years because no unanimous agreement could be reached on the Council? And in this field, we know that there is little time left to implement a common policy to address the emergencies and tensions affecting every European country.
Little time is left to overcome Europe's difficulties and delays in playing a part in combating terrorism and ensuring international security, thereby gaining in credibility and authority to support Europe's arguments in the ever-essential relations with Europe's ally, America. Little time is left to demonstrate Europe's capacity to speak out with one voice in the international fora, to develop stances and initiatives on the most burning issues on the agenda, such as the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the very tense relations with Iran (to mention but a few examples). It cannot be denied that there is a risk of Europe's becoming substantially irrelevant on the world stage. And this is at a time when an autonomous and constructive contribution is expected from Europe in so many quarters, even in transatlantic relations, or while, as President Koehler recently so eloquently put it, "The world is expecting the Europeans to offer more than we are doing at present" to "shape" the globalisation.
Let us therefore prepare to test our consistency, to verify our political will to which - since resolving the institutional stalemate - the possibility of relaunching Europe, and Europe's growth, cohesion, assertiveness and role are linked.
Let us therefore prepare to take stock - as we proceed with the ratifications of the Reform Treaty - of the scope and the impact of the clash between different conceptions of the European project and the different levels of ambition for Europe. And let us ask ourselves which paths can therefore be attempted under the Treaty defined in Lisbon.


Another issue which, in all its complexity, is now being heatedly debated and which seems to demand definitive responses - and I am referring here to the question of Europe's (or rather the Union's) borders in relation to new possible enlargements to not only the Balkans but also Turkey - has to do with one's view of integration. In the negotiations with the 12 candidate countries in the early years of the present century we committed the mistake, in my opinion, of failing to address the essential issue: the matter of delegating sovereignty to the Union's institutions which alone can lead to a different experience from mere cooperation between allied sovereign states. But looking further to the future, we know from experience that any new enlargements can only be contemplated if they are compatible with the idea of a highly integrated and governable Europe, a Europe which is not condemned to water down and give up all its ambitions to be a political player.
One path that was even more recently suggested by Jacques Delors in starkly realistic terms is to limit the objectives that can be pursued by the Greater Europe and to move forward towards more ambitious objectives by differentiation within the Union, to enable a smaller group of countries to take the initiative, and be joined by others when the conditions obtain for participating in a more advanced form of integration. We know of precedents along these lines, such as the Schengen Accord, and the essential decision to introduce the Euro and establish the European Central Bank. Now, under the Reform Treaty, it is possible more easily to adopt the instrument of enhanced co-operation.
We can discuss the feasibility of these more advanced forms of integration and see how they can effectively meet the need to hasten the pace of the European Union. But the new member states must not be afraid: the doors will always remain open for them as they are for all the others (and indeed more than one new member State is already joining both the Eurozone and the Schengen Accord). Even less should we fear a strengthened integration in general terms: this differentiation would be harmless as far as the common institutional framework is concerned involving the 27 member states. It would be much more harmful to increase in numbers of opt-outs and derogations at the request of individual member states, which is certainly a practice that will lead to regression rather than progress, and to the erosion rather than differentiation, of the European integration process.


What I am now indicating are options that are already on the agenda independently of whatever may be suggested for Europe and for the European Union looking further ahead to 2020 or 2030. We might surely set up a special "comité de sages" to reflect on this further perspective, thinking of earlier experiences that have produced positive results in the past. But today we also have to take account of the outputs of the debate in this very University in May 2000, and the detailed discussions that were ultimately completed on the Convention. I would not like certain repetitions, and I would not like to run the risk of an overdosis of reflections and a deficit of decisions.
We need decisions that will produce tangible effects to recover the support of our public opinions at home, support which was weakened, and not only in the two countries that rejected ratification of the Constitutional Treaty in referendums. Among our citizens - and this is a fundamental fact we must not ignore - there is also a crisis of confidence in the European project. This has been partly due to the slowdown in growth, particularly in some of the leading national economies, the fear of losing out in the globalisation process, concern about the effects of Union enlargement, and ultimately the perception that Europe is impotent and in decline on the world stage as a whole.
This is a crisis that can be overcome by sending out concrete and consistent signals of a revival and at the same time by clearing the field of distortive and destructive campaigns. I am referring here to political and opinion-forming campaigns that have cast a shadow over the exceptionally positive results of 50 years, and over a whole patrimony of values and achievements, and given credit to the idea of a Europe with more constraints and restrictions than benefits and opportunities, while some national governments have often criticised European directives and obligations as an alibi to cover their own errors and their own shortcomings. A great political and cultural effort is therefore needed, to communicate Europe and educate the public, while upgrading all the channels for involving, consulting with and enlisting the participation of citizens and civil society, also on the basis of the provisions of the Reform Treaty. This is an effort we have to make if Europe is to grow into a more outreaching and democratic Union.


But where can the impetus come from in this phase to drive this forward, to boost new, timely and effective decisions, and, in short, stimulate the necessary political will?
We must necessarily look - and appeal - to the common institutions and to the nation states that have been the driving force throughout the periods in which European integration has made the greatest progress.
In particular, the Commission itself, which is passing through a difficult transition phase, and the European Parliament, which now has increased powers and heightened representativity and which is demonstrating that on essential aspects it is vigilant and assertive, without wishful thinkings. It has also succeeded in reaching out, as it should, to a healthy and much closer relationship with the national Parliaments, co-operating with their representatives, without confusion regarding the respective roles of each, during the Constitutional Treaty drafting process. That was an occasion and an experience from which the national Parliaments may not perhaps have fully perceived, through their representatives, the full significance of their enhanced function and coresponsibility in taking European unity and integration forward.
Altiero Spinelli, at the end of his work as a tireless prophet and fighter for Europe, focused very strongly on the constituent vocation of the European Parliament. A mandate in this direction was not achieved then, but the European Parliament, working more closely with the national Parliaments and with the vast voting public, can also deliver a fresh impetus to the relaunching of the Union and to building up more advanced prospects for the united Europe.


As far as the member states of the Union, and individual countries and their political leaderships are concerned, I hardly need remind you of the historic role played by the founding fathers of the European Community, large and small. But they were joined by others, through the subsequent enlargements of the Union, driven by equally powerful pro-European convictions and commitment; and I am convinced that the boost that is necessary today, and the essential political will, can also come from the area of the countries that have joined the Union in recent years.
However, I would like to stress what is expected of Germany, Italy and France, and what they are able to give. The destiny of the united Europe is very largely in their hands.
Germany and Italy have certainly demonstrated the most staunch and unbroken continuity with the original spirit, with the project for European integration, and with the vision of Adenauer and De Gasperi. They have given proof of this in all the European institutions and in their policies as nation states. They have never provoked crises in the life of the Community and the Union and have always striven to overcome any crises and difficulties that have arisen. It is the responsibility of Germany and Italy to weld together this common sharing of European ideals and objectives, regardless of the turnover and renewal of their political leaderships. Our two countries have a special responsibility by virtue of their unfailing belief in Europe as a political union, as an ever-closer union between the peoples of Europe. It will always be possible to rely on Italy's commitment to this, as I said at the beginning, for Italy will never resigning itself to falling back on less ambitious goals for Europe. I trust that this will also lead to a heightened capacity of Italy to be purposeful and to show initiative.
France has had a more troubled history. But, as President Sarkozy has quite rightly said, the will to unite Europe while safeguarding the values of European civilisation was placed in jeopardy by wars at the heart of Europe, and the realisation of this need and the vision of the new path to be opened up "were French d'abord". In recent months, President Sarkozy has spoken passionately and acknowledged matters of great import: on the value of the "practical experience of shared sovereignty", which has characterised Europe for fifty years, on the magnitude of the new worldwide challenges and the limited capacity of individual nation states to address them, and the indissoluble linkage "there cannot be a strong France without Europe just as there cannot be a strong Europe without France".
The reaffirmation of the France's mission and commitment to Europe is - and I say this without wishing to ignore or to use diplomatic language to talk about the differences that remain or are still to be arise - one of the most important reasons why we can have confidence in the future of the united Europe at this difficult time.
We have, moreover, always been aware of the contribution made to the construction of Europe by the Franco-German entente on issues of vital importance since the time of Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer, also in purely close personal terms, between the Heads of State and Government of both countries. And how can we fail to mention the two great Presidents of the European Commission who both held office for a decade, Walter Hallstein and Jacques Delors!
It is commonly agreed, moreover, that this entente must remain one of the main lynchpins in the process of European integration, but that it is not sufficient of itself to give the necessary drive and make up - in the expanded Union as it exists today - for any lasting lack of political will with serious repercussions, or weaknesses in the Community fabric and method.
Creating and implementing the decisions and policies on which the future of Europe largely depends cannot be the responsibility of a Directory, with two or three members, whatever its composition. The stronger European political will that is required can be created if a fresh boost is forthcoming from the most determined countries and their leaderships, but it has to be the result of much more wide-ranging synergies, and must impact on the policies and work of the common institutions with responsibility for the integration process, and on their manner of operation.
As a great protagonist of the European adventure said many years ago, when he already saw the alternative emerging between leaving it to others to decide the fate of our continent and uniting our forces to enable Europe to bring influence to bear on the world, "we are in a phase in which destiny is still hesitating". We cannot stand idly by as prisoners of our disputes and uncertainties, for destiny to turn against Europe.