CIAO DATE: 12/01

International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXVI, No. 1 January-March 2001


Editor's Note


In the "Declaration on the Future of the Union" issued at the Nice summit (7-10 December 2000), the heads of state and government of the EU stated that "with ratification of the Treaty of Nice, the European Union will have completed the institutional changes necessary for the accession of new Member States". Actually, after hot and prolonged debate, the Fifteen found a way of settling a number of pending institutional questions they had left unsolved at the previous Amsterdam summit - reallocation of the voting rights in the Council of Ministers, redefinition of qualified majority voting and its extension to further policy fields, the new size and composition of the European Commission, new mechanisms for enhanced cooperation, reallocation of the seats in the European Parliament. There is a widespread perception, however, that the package of institutional reforms agreed upon in Nice is far from adequate in ensuring greater efficiency and transparency - in some respects the Union's decision-making rules have become even more confusing - and in paving the way for substantial advancement of the integration process. The uncertainties surrounding the Union's longer-term direction are reflected in the difficulties it encounters in specific areas, witness the continuing weakness of the euro. But they are also likely to complicate the enlargement process itself which requires, apart from institutional adaptations, a major review of some EU policies, notably in the economic and social fields, which only a Union with greater unity of purpose will be able to achieve. In fact, in the aforementioned "Declaration", the Fifteen also recognised the need for further institutional reforms, calling for a "deeper and wider debate about the future of the European Union", which is to result in new changes to the Treaties to be agreed upon at an intergovernmental conference (IGC) in 2004. Although the Declaration provides a short list of fundamental questions on which the reform process will have to focus - the subsidiarity principle, the status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the simplification of the Treaties and the role of national parliaments - it leaves open the possibility of a wider agenda for the next IGC should a consensus emerge on other topics vital to the future of the Union. Equally important, the Declaration explicitly calls for the involvement of various non-governmental actors in the debate on the next steps of the EU's reform process, including academic circles and representatives of civil society.

This issue of The International Spectator aims to contribute to the debate launched with the "Declaration on the Future of the Union" with a core specifically dedicated to the EU's post-Nice agenda and the prospects of the 2004 IGC. This is part of a wider effort recently undertaken by the review to address the long-term issues of European integration more regularly and systematically.

In the first article of the core, Andrew Duff provides an overall critical assessment of the results of the Nice summit, emphasising its major shortcomings and putting forward a set of proposals on how the IGC in 2004 could rectify them. In the article that follows Bruno de Witte, after analysing the state of the European constitutional debate, offers his views on the potential for the process begun with the Nice declaration to lead to a substantially new constitutional treaty of the EU. The future of the Union is also examined by Pier Virgilio Dastoli from a federalist perspective and by Sandro Gozi with regard to the possible evolution of the triangular relationship between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, around which the Community system is organised. The core concludes with an article by Elena Paciotti illustrating the major innovations introduced with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and discussing the links between the process of codification of the EU's basic values and rights and the continuous reform of its institutions.

The Opinions section hosts an article by Gamal Soltan which examines how the security perceptions of the Arab countries shape their approach towards the security agenda of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, a cooperation initiative that The International Spectator has followed with constant attention since its inception in 1995. The results and prospects of NATO's Mediterranean dialogue, the other major cooperation framework in the Mediterranean area, are analysed in an article by Massimo Ambrosetti. Also dealing with NATO is an article by Enzo Cannizzaro which discusses the implications of the alliance's new strategic concept for its changing policy of intervention and its relations with the UN, as well as for the general evolution of international law.

In the section devoted to Italy's foreign policy, the Italian Defence Minister Sergio Mattarella describes the principal measures adopted by the Italian government to shape the country's defence model to the new challenges of the post-Cold War environment. An article by Ralph Thiele analyses a similar process of reform that is changing some basic characteristics of the German army.

Finally, the review section features the contributions of two US scholars: John Harper comments on the central arguments of a recent book on international relations theory by John Ikenberry; Joseph LaPalombara discusses the major trends in Italian foreign policy as they emerge from a book based on an interview with Italy's Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini.