News BlogEuropean history

Reunion in Ventotene

Spinelli's prison file from 1937 (credit: www.altierospinelli.orgvia Rivista on line, the magazine of the Johns Hopkins Center of the University of Bologna, http://www.jhubc.it)
Spinelli's prison file dating from 1937 (credit: www.altierospinelli.orgvia Rivista on line, the magazine of the John Hopkins Center at the University of Bologna, http://www.jhubc.it)

(BRUSSELS2) The leaders of the three major European countries - which are now only three with the departure of the United Kingdom - Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande meet on the island on Monday of Ventotene to reflect, before the informal summit at '27' in Bratislava on September 16, ... about the future of Europe and prepare for the next European deadlines. Let's hope that the sea air and the atmosphere steeped in history of the place will allow them to free themselves from the constraints of the down-to-earth and to be a little more ambitious and... concrete.

A symbolic island

It was there that Mussolini's regime imprisoned communist activists and other opponents of fascism, notably Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi. It was from this island, in the spring of 1941, that a “Draft Manifesto” “For a free and united Europe” was written (Per un'Europa libera e unita. Progetto of a manifesto), one of the main founding texts of the European idea, which irrigated Italian resistance during the war, and beyond, and served as the foundation of the European Federalist Movement created in Milan in 1943. It is there that Altiero Spinelli was buried in 1986 in the Ventotene cemetery.

Withdraw from nationalism the means to harm

The idea of ​​the "Ventotene Manifesto" is " tailored » — writes Bernard Poignant, adviser to François Hollande (2), on the day of the centenary of the birth of Spinelli — « sovereign national states are no longer able to guarantee the security of their citizens. They no longer know how to promote peaceful trade. Their horizon is limited to the conquest of the weaker neighboring countries. Their nationalism crushes everything and has become their creed. It is therefore necessary in spite of them and against them to save European civilization. For that there is only one solution: to withdraw from the States substantial parts of sovereignty »

On cigarette paper at the bottom of a tin box

The very way in which this text came into existence allows us to measure its content. “ This text had to be kept secret and they hid it in the double bottom of an iron box. ". " They had no paper, a material considered dangerous by the fascists. They therefore wrote it on cigarette paper. »

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Read also: Italy calls for a Defense Schengen. Will the call be heard?

Download Ventotene's manifesto (translated into French) byAltiero Spinelli Institute of Federalist Studies

(1) Read about the history of Penitentiary of Santo Stefano

(2) Former Mayor of Quimper and MEP (PS)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).