The pace of globalisation is accelerating and in order to keep abreast of it, actors at various levels are seeking different solutions: nations are trying to make their economies more competitive while defending their sovereignty; integration is being pursued in the global and regional contexts; international institutions are working to regulate global dynamics, etc. Some of the problems raised by these responses are the focus of this issue.
Although the European Communities arose long before globalisation had gained its present momentum, in recent years integration in the European Union has been pressed as a way to meet the new challenge. The first group of articles in this issue examines the problems of nationalism and federalism within Italy, Europe and the new world order from a number of different viewpoints. First presented at a conference on "Nation and Integration at the Threshold of the Year 2000" organised by the IAI in conjunction with the cultural association il Mulino and the European Federalist Movement and with the support of the Rome Office of the Euorpean Union in Rome on 19-20 September 1997 in commemoration of Altiero Spinelli ten years after his death, the pieces explore such issues as whether the nation state can survive as an entity and an actor on the international scene in this new international context; whether national identity is compatible with European identity, and the constitutional identity of the European Union.
The second group of articles is centred more specifically on the response of individual countries to the economic challenges of globalisation. The new relationship between a nations economic effort and the international dimension of competitiveness has brought considerable pressure to bear on major countries to update their foreign economic policy systems. The three country studies describe the way in which France, Germany and Italy are adapting to the new circumstances. The articles on France and Germany are updated versions of the contributions to the study on "A foreign economic policy for Italy in the era of global competition" carried out by the IAI under the direction of Gianni Bonvicini and Paolo Guerrieri Paleotti, funded by Mediocredito Centrale and published by the latter. The article on Italy is a synthesis of the various pieces on Italy contained in the publication.