Spinelli, Altiero: Speech at first UEF congress
Published in A. Spinelli, Dagli stati sovrani agli Stati Uniti d’Europa, repr. in L. Levi and S. Pistone, Trent’anni di vita del MFE (here excerpted).
From W.Lipgens and W. Loth, Documents on the History of European Integration, De Gruyter, 1988
We cannot and do not wish to conceal from ourselves that the only countries capable of taking European initiatives at present are those in the Western or, one may say, the American part of the continent. Nothing is sadder than the fact that the ideal Europe, the cradle of law and liberty, constitutes only part of the geographical area of Europe. What is more, that area is certain to shrink, and European civilization to become a mere historical memory, unless we can at least unite what at present remains of it.
European initiatives are possible where American influence preponderates, mainly because in most of Western Europe democratic institutions continue to exist, albeit shakily, while in Eastern Europe they have completely disappeared. But the opportunities also depend to a large extent on America’s own position. The Americans are confronted by alternatives of historical importance and have not yet chosen between them. America cannot return to prewar isolationism: she is irrevocably involved in European politics. But that involvement may develop in many different ways according to the complicated interplay of actions and reactions between the American situation and that of Europe.
The US must maintain their high standard of living and level of production, and cannot do so if the rest of the world is plunged in poverty. Hence American policy tends to be opposed to reserved markets, closed economies, national planning and autarky. America has an interest in European prosperity and may promise aid to European countries on the sole condition that they succeed in developing a rich, open and orderly economic system. This is the rationale of the Marshall Plan, an opportunity that the European democracies must grasp and turn to their advantage. However, all the Americans can do on these lines is to offer us the opportunity. They can accept the formation of a peaceful and prosperous European union that would be economically useful to them while reducing their military commitments in the old continent and diminishing the area of contact and conflict with the Soviet Union. But they cannot themselves create such a union, and if the Europeans cannot seize the opportunity the US will be more and more tempted to move from the liberal alternative to that of imperialism. This latter alternative is strong in America: it develops in parallel with the former one, and it is this which makes every American initiative and intervention of such crucial importance to us.
If democratic Europe does not save itself by its own efforts, making use of the American opportunity, and does not develop federal institutions in the economic and political fields, then it is American imperialism that will prevail.
If the US has to maintain its positions of strength in a Europe that is incapable of normal autonomous life, it will have to turn each country into an economic, political and military protectorate, exploiting it in one way or another or granting it this or that privilege. That is how empires come into existence. Liberal America is still alive and active, but is gradually losing ground to imperialist America. When that process is completed there will no longer be any chance of salvation for European democracy.
It is generally objected that a federalist plan of action on these lines will tend to form a West European bloc subservient to America and hostile to the Soviet Union. Many federalists are frightened by this accusation and quit the ground of reality to take refuge in vain and cloudy hopes.