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Foreign policy speech to the 1997 Federal Congress of the Lega Nord


· 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 to separate.
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 body politic.
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 historical opportunity.
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.



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 and confederation.

European Executive
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 defense.
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 Executive.
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 of capital.

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.



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 and Russia.
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 economic consequences.

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 way proposition.
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!



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 partners.
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.

Atlantic Alliance
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.



Central Europe
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 become possible.

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.

The Mediterranean
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 return home.



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.