A FREE PADANIA IN A
Foreign policy speech to the 1997 Federal Congress of the Lega Nord
I. THE REAWAKENING OF THE PEOPLES AND EUROPEAN FEDERALISM
· 1990 German Unification
· 1991 Independence of the ex-Soviet Republics
· 1992 Independence of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia
· 1993 Separation of Czechoslovakia and the Independence of Slovakia
and the Czech Republic
· 1995 Democratic Referendum for the Sovereignty of Québec
· 1996 Declaration of Independence of Padania
These dates summarize the contemporary process of the reawakening of identities.
After having swept over what at one time was called the Third World during
the period of decolonization, it hit the countries suffering under communist
dictatorship. Today it has reached the heart of Western civilization,
from Québec to Catalonia, from Padania to Flanders. With the fall
of communist regimes and the twilight of the bipolar conflict, the peoples
of Europe and the West are affirming their right to choose with whom they
want to live and with whom they don't, with whom to unite and from whom
A look beyond the specific cases reveals a need developing in Europe for
a supra-national system of regulations for governing fundamental economic
and environmental choices. At the same time people feel the no less pressing
need to be closer to the political institutions which more accurately
reflect their spheres of identity. In addition such a system must be robust
enough to meet the challenges of preparing local and European-wide economies
for the increasingly interdependent and competitive global marketplace.
The re-emergence of historical regions and ethnic nationalities
Historical regions, and linguistic groups which have been part of single
would-be Nation-States, in some cases, for centuries and which centralist
authoritarianism succeeded in repressing only superficially, are re-emerging.
Padania's demands for autonomy confirm once again that our Peoples are
among the forerunners of fundamental movements in the most advanced parts
of Europe. In spite of what the regime-controlled Italian mass media would
like to make people believe, "localism" is not a sign of backwardness.
On the contrary, the evolution and forward development of our movement
is unstoppable. It is a European-wide phenomenon which the retarded and
provincial Italian State, culturally and economically mired in the backwaters
of Europe, cannot and wishes not to see for evident reasons.
The panorama of the revival of Western identities is vast: the different
demands ranging from full sovereignty to basic cultural autonomy correspond
to the level of self-awareness and identity achieved up till now by the
respective groups. The social and economic situations also vary considerably.
But viewed as a whole, the strength and depth of the phenomenon and its
political meaning are clear.
The renaissance of identities is linked to the declining role of
a form of State
Politics and the State should not be confused. Politics is an essence,
a principle, a human activity corresponding to certain constants. Its
general task is to guarantee the internal harmony and the external security
of the body politic.
The nation-State, which emerged at the dawn of the modern era, is only
one historical example of a body politic. Its main characteristics are:
the centralization of power; the imposition of a cultural uniformity process
among the peoples and territories under its control; and the destruction
of middle-level bodies.
The nation-State mentality became widespread throughout the Nineteenth
Century and into the early Twentieth Century. This process occurred much
after the political construction of dynastic national States which had
arisen in contrast to the imperial authority on the one hand and the regional
and local entities on the other.
Indeed, this way of thinking seems destined to survive for still quite
some time - especially in the nation-States with the oldest traditions
- in spite of the evident atrophy of the ability of the current form of
State to fulfill the tasks which justify its raison d'être; principally,
the efficient management of an adequately-sized market and a credible
system of defense.
It is possible that the resistance to integration, which today is expressed
in the debate on the future of the European Union fixed along the lines
of relations between nation-State governments versus the extension of
so-called "community rule", will become weaker over time.
Europe needs a truly federal integration
There are those who view political federalism as a mere aggregation process
which takes pre-existing sovereign entities and regroups them with the
tendency over time to give rise to a new single unitary State. The LEGA
NORD has no interest in passing from a group of classical nation-States
to a new European super-State. We are convinced that all those who more
or less consciously promote this historical development betray the principles
of federalism. These people are more than ever prisoners of the dogmas
of the nation-State. They limit themselves to simply wanting to produce
the "modern" institutions of a State - despite the fact that
today it is already quite outdated - on a larger scale. It is evident
that this form of State is much too unsuitable - and perhaps even dangerous
- for the complex realities of Europe to be extended to a Continental
The Intergovernmental Conference for review of the Maastricht Treaty is
not even facing the real cause of the European integration crisis. The
cause can be identified as follows: based as it is on the centralist model,
the citizens, as well as the ruling classes themselves, imagine the EU
as a new centralist State and they understandably fear it.
Europe of the Peoples and of the Regions
The peoples of Europe and Padania need something quite different: a Europe
of the Peoples and of the Regions. Make no mistake: we are not here to
perpetuate the current form of nation-State, neither in its current dimension,
nor on a continental scale, and hardly as a decomposition of the current
States only to be reproduced on the same model. The Padanian movement
emerges as a main catalyst in a general European mutation.
In the first place, there is the question of the identity of communities
which must be federated. Europe is on the eve of a peaceful separation-reaggregation
movement whose result will not be a conglomerate of the European States
as we know them.
A certain number of present-day States will experience the phenomenon
of separation which will change the territorial configurations of the
Continent. Others will be able to restructure themselves giving life to
new federal forms within their borders. The future constituent territories
may be called the Community of the Padanian Peoples, for example, or Scottish
People, or Danish People regardless of their internal structure or institutional
forms. Certain present-day States will therefore live side-by-side with
the newly constituted entities which express older traditional identities.
This process will unfold of its own.
And so we shall have the constituent bodies of a Europe which will be
truly built on federalist principles. A true equilibrium will be achieved
between a general Government, the Communities, and the Regions with the
separation of powers making obsolete the center-periphery dichotomy typical
of the classical nation-State.
Even the principle of subsidiarity, perhaps more preferably called "proximity"
and which the Treaties should explicitly attribute also to the Regions,
will in no way become a modern proposal of the gerarchy principle.
Centralist uniformity and non-European immigration
As Padanians and as Europeans we have to face the enormous but exhilarating
task of unloading the centralist way of thinking with all its heavy baggage.
Among these, perhaps the most burdensome and malignant is the imposition
of cultural uniformity perpetrated by the State among the Peoples.
Therefore, European integration is not, and should not be, only a response
to the recognized inadequacies of the traditional forms of sovereignty
of small and medium-sized States concentrated in one of the most developed
parts of the world. It also represents the natural environment in which
to give a greater voice to the values and rights of European populations.
Integration means seeking out all that is shared in common and appreciating
all that is specific. From the Mediterranean to the North Sea, Nations
without a State, quasi-Nations, and regional groupings recognize this
The uniformity dogma of the nation-State is of absolutist origin and it
still reigns today. It is aimed against all territorial cultural realities
existing prior to the formation of the nation-State entity. Today the
priests of the nation-State flippantly juxtapose onto it the dogma of
the so-called "diversity" State. How is this possible? Because
what they exalt as diversity is an import imposed exclusively by the arrival
of non-European populations, leaving less room than ever for our own deeply-rooted
diversities. The multi-cultural society pushed today by the political-economic-intellectual
power nexus is the imposition of steadily vaster communities of new arrivals
onto the "welcoming" society, made progressively more uniform
and stripped of self-awareness.
II. INSTITUTIONAL ARCHITECTURE OF THE EUROPE OF THE PEOPLES AND OF
Originality of construction
The future Europe may well be called the Confederation of the European
Peoples, but we believe that the new construction will go beyond more
or less outdated classical labels such as the distinction between federation
The European Commission should develop into a lean federal executive presided
by a premier directly elected by European citizens. The term of office
will depend on the confidence of the European Parliament and in any case
will be for a maximum of four years. The European Executive will be responsible
for monetary policy, strategic foreign policy, and defense policy.
It is therefore essential that, in its originality, the construction of
Europe should develop according to a model which allows for the implementation
of different policies in the several Communities as long as they do not
conflict with the preservation of acquis communautaire and with the objectives
of a single currency, a unified strategic foreign policy, and a common
The European basic law should not prescribe implicit powers to the Executive
and other European institutions. Encroachment of the general European
institutions into the jurisdiction of the Communities and the Regions
must be avoided.
The European Parliament will consist of two Houses. One of these (the
House of the Citizens, or the European Assembly) will have legislative
powers and the responsibility of control over areas assigned to the European
The other House will consist of a Diet or Senate of the Regions and will
guarantee territorial rights. A Region will be defined as an area which
constitutes a geographic entity unto itself, or else an ensemble of like
territories whose populations desire to protect and develop shared common
characteristics to promote cultural, social, and economic progress. Each
Region will send two representatives to the Diet or Senate regardless
of the constitutional arrangements of its specific Community. The two
Houses will each be located in a different city, for example, one in Edinburgh
or Copenhagen and the other in Venice or Graz.
Network of capitals
To highlight to originality of the Confederation, and to overcome the
center-periphery dichotomy typical of traditional nation-State structures,
the traditional European capital of Brussels will be one among a sort
of network of capitals including the seats of all European institutions,
in addition to the Parliament, which will be distributed among all the
Communities, preferably in cities which have not already enjoyed the status
Court of Justice
The European Court of Justice has made an indispensable contribution to
the European integration process and the development of Community law.
However, an expanded role for this institution for the further stages
of integration does not appear necessary. Since the upcoming main issues
have been and will continue to be of an eminently political nature, such
as Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Court of Justice cannot extend
to those areas the role it has had in others, such as the Single Market,
with its praetorian and teleological interpretations of law. Such an extension
may indeed contradict the spirit of the principles of subsidiarity and
may lead to a democratic deficit.
In any case, to guarantee the impartiality of the very important role
played by the Court of Justice, it is necessary to introduce the principle
of incompatibility between the functions of a member of the Court and
membership in secret organizations.
A similar incompatibility should be attributed to the future European
Central Bank. Likewise, the debate on the nature of the Bank's independence
should be developed with the utmost caution.
III. GUIDELINES FOR THE NEW EUROPE
The following guidelines are also part of the LEGA NORD's conceptual framework
for the construction of Europe as illustrated so far:
Much of the success of the integration process is due to an affinity of
traditions. This affinity is a principle criterion for deciding what direction
the enlargement of the European Confederation will follow. On the one
hand, it is not in our interest to restrict Europe only to those Peoples
who have mostly intensely experienced the modernization process. On the
other hand, the entry decision must be based on geographic, historical,
and cultural considerations.
We have a primary interest in communicating to the other half of the Continent
a sense of certainty concerning our steadfast will to inclusion and our
refusal to perpetuate the fractures existing until 1989. Europe must no
longer be divided by barriers, therefore the European institutions must
expand towards the East. We are also aware that the European integration
process will not be complete if ultimately it does not involve Ukraine
At the same time, it is necessary to make an objective assessment of the
impact of enlargement on the Europe's fiscal standing and all the foreseeable
Right of rescission
So that the European integration process is not, and does not appear to
be, the construction of a super-State which merely tends to replace the
present-day nation-States, it is important that the basic law of the future
Confederation of the European Peoples explicitly recognize individual
Communities' right of withdrawal, in addition to the general right of
people to manage their own affairs, upon satisfaction of outstanding obligations
assumed. In 1994, the peoples of Austria, Finland, Sweden, and, with a
different outcome, Norway expressed their will concerning EU membership.
There is no reason why the free choice of the Peoples should be a one
Today the reluctance of certain States to take further steps toward ceding
sovereignty is understandable and perhaps unavoidable from many points
of view. Among all the possible instruments for overcoming these reasonable
apprehensions, the right of rescission appears the most suitable. Other
possibilities include the constitutional right of annulment (the right
of a Community to render a European law null and void on its own territory),
or the right of veto.
A new management of funds
The role of local development in structural intervention will be strengthened
to reflect the degree of regional representation within the Federation.
Fund management will be a key indicator for determining whether we are
really constructing a Europe of the Regions.
In Free Padania, European funds will be directly managed by the Regions
which will be responsible for planning and autonomous supplemental financing.
Independent in Europe
The "milk quota" debacle is an emblematic affair confirming
Padania's awareness that the ruinous intermediation of the Italian State
extends to the European level.
Another example is that still today, in 1997, Padania is not part of the
Schengen area because of the inefficiency and unreliability of the Italian
State. This exclusion has serious consequences for Padania's economy and
for all its citizens. Because of the failings of the Italian State, billions
of ECU in structural funds allocated to the Regions of Padania by the
EU have been lost.
But there is worse. Padania risks being excluded from European Monetary
Union and, as a consequence, from the inner circle of European integration.
In this way, it will be kept away from an area to which it belongs historically,
economically, and culturally.
How can the Italian State, which does not have the power and the will
to protect Padania, demand its obedience? We must free our selves from
this ruinous intermediation!
IV. ARCHITECTURE OF SECURITY
Toward a multi-polar world?
Beneath the present-day superficial technological and industrial uniformity,
a new global pluralism is emerging in the wake of the fading dominance
of the East-West conflict which had given rise to a bipolar world. Over
wide spaces, the new pluralism has its foundations in groups of Peoples
honed together by historical and cultural, as well as geographical, ties.
And it is on these foundations that the tendency toward the regional supra-State
system is developing - of which the EU is the most advanced example -
and the revitalization of what we may call "civilizational patriotism".
European security and defense policy
The development of a distinct European identity within the international
system appears as an inevitable dimension to the European integration
process. The European Confederation must learn to act as a unit within
all intergovernmental organizations beginning with the UN. In prospective,
a seat for Europe itself appears desirable in the Security Council, in
which it may become necessary to more accurately reflect a changing geopolitical
environment. However, at present, we have no intention of backing initiatives
which can express a de facto hostile attitude toward our main European
It is by now evident that it is financially and technologically impossible
for individual EU member States to maintain an effective, autarkic defense
apparatus. Over time, a process of military integration must accompany
the attainment of a Common Foreign and Security Policy for Europe.
The debate on expansion of NATO, whose preservation is taken for granted,
will be conducted with prudence, taking into account the security of the
entire European continent. Overcoming the present division of Europe into
security zones and insecurity zones is what appears fundamental. The potential
for the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) as
a pan-European security structure should not be overlooked in this framework.
V. PADANIAN GEOPOLITICS
In addition to its fundamental relationships with fellow Western neighbors,
Padania harbors deep historical ties with Central Europe. We feel particularly
close to these Peoples who, in several cases have recently gained independence.
Padania must deepen its economic, regional, and cultural relations with
them also through the re-launch of the Central European Initiative. In
this context, the re-emergence of Trieste and other border areas will
Someone could fear that the separation of Padania and Italy proper may
give rise to forms of instability in the latter, which could in some way
compromise security in that strategically important region. We point out
that the well-ordered civil and economic development of the Italic peninsula
is of vital interest to its immediate neighbors, us Padanians.
Padania's policy toward non-European Mediterranean countries must be guided
by "attention and distinction". Our good relations with this
area and its peaceful development with tangible help from Europe are fundamental
for vital interests such as security and energy supply. At the same time,
we shall strive to enhance our European identity.
Padanians in the world
Individuals and communities in all parts of the world who come from or
who have ancestors born in a Region of Padania must be helped to rediscover
their ties with their place of origin. Contacts between regions and the
development of Sister Cities can be among the various ways of recovering
a source of historical wealth and natural enrichment deriving from different
experiences. To achieve this objective, support should be given to the
formation of associations of "Padanians in the World" which
can act as points of contact for these individuals and these communities.
Padania must stand ready to welcome its sons and daughters who wish to
VI. PADANIA IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK
Padania as an added value for Europe
Padania wishes to consider its productive system and its entrepreneurial
spirit as a source of wealth for a Europe which gladly accepts them as
an endowment. If Padania is forced to remain trapped inside the Italian
State, our productive system will decay leading to a considerable weakening
of the entire European economy.
When Padania obtains its independence, and is therefore freed from the
oppressive tax burden and inefficiency of the Italian State, enormous
resources will be released. Some of these resources will become available
to consumers leading to an increase in the flow of goods from abroad.
The Padanians' propensity to save will be transformed into new areas of
productive investment in Padania and elsewhere.
Padania as an added value for the Mediterranean and the Balkans
In the field of Cooperation and Development, the Italian State has squandered
enormous capital resources without providing any real assistance to needy
countries. Padania can sustain a clear and well-directed cooperation policy.
Significant resources can be directed to Mediterranean and Balkanic countries.
The Padanians will demonstrate the real meaning of solidarity.
In particular, special attention must be given to agriculture. A greater
contribution will derive from self-sufficient agriculture rather than
from an exclusively export-oriented one. We are fully aware of the damage
that a single-commodity agriculture has done to many societies - abandonment
of fields and the subsequent salvage urbanization, excessive dependence
on foreign markets. A self-sufficient agricultural sector not only provides
rural populations with a dignified alternative to emigration, it is also
a fundamental element of balanced development.
Europe and world trade
The LEGA NORD believes that the development of free trade between nations
and regional aggregations is fundamental. At the same time, the wide economic
structural and social differences around the world do not appear to advise
immediate and indiscriminate removal by the European Union of all tariff
and non-tariff trade barriers. Different policies must be applied across
sectors and in different regional areas. While several non-European economic
areas are experiencing rapid and continuing growth, other areas, such
as North Africa, struggle with the difficulties of underdevelopment exacerbated
by demographic pressures. Therefore, a careful policy of trade liberalization
must be directed toward this area.
While challenges of unemployment and competitiveness in Europe are being
met with structural changes to the labor market and social system, the
expedient of "community preferences" for production, consumption,
and especially jobs cannot yet be discarded. This can also be linked to
the question of so-called "social dumping" or the indiscriminate
exploitation of manual labor practiced in several emerging economies.
These fundamental problems of economic and social structural changes and
human rights must be faced with lucidity and without hypocrisy.
TOGETHER LET'S BUILD THE EUROPE OF THE HUNDRED FLAGS