CIAO DATE: 07/04

International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXVIII, No. 1 (January - March 2003)


Editor’s Note

The first five articles of this issue of The International Spectator examine various topical subjects of the current debate on the reform of the structures and policies of the European Union. Three of them address the structural shortcomings and proposals for reform of the Union’s Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) in view of the challenges posed by the forthcoming enlargement to ten new countries. In the first article of the core devoted to the JHA, Jörg Monar gives a systematic overview of such challenges, emphasising the considerable differences exiting between the current EU members and the prospective new ones in terms not only of structures and implementation capabilities, but also of policy approaches. He then discusses the possible impact of this diversity on the EU's performance in the various JHA areas and the possible ways and instruments to deal with it. The set of reform measures he proposes are aimed at maintaining and possibly improving the Union’s current decision-making and implementation capacity, as well as at reinforcing the mutual trust between EU current and future members in the JHA domain. The article by Eberhard Bort focuses, more specifically, on the new problems that the Union will have to face in police coordination when it acquires a new eastern frontier as a result of enlargement. The author analyses the structural obstacles that have prevented more effective trans-frontier police cooperation so far, but also describes some of the many initiatives recently undertaken at the European level that demonstrate a growing willingness to build up common policy instruments. His general thesis is that, in shaping their future external frontier, the EU member countries should try to find an appropriate policy mix reconciling security and protection requirements with the need to promote communication and exchange with third countries. Another central component of JHA, the building of a European system of criminal justice, is discussed by Giovanni Grasso in the third article of the core. He moves from the observation that the integration process within the Union has created numerous common goods and related shared interests that require uniform penal protection. The persistent differences in the legal handling of the same criminal behaviour represents a potential factor of distortion of economic competition, and this has an overall negative impact on the functioning of the Union. After illustrating the existing legal basis for harmonisation of penal law and the possible effects of the coming enlargement, the author gives his assessment of the recent proposals aimed at introducing a nucleus of criminal law in view of the creation of a largely unified European judicial space.

The Opinions section features an article on another topical European issue, the future of the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). The authors of the article, Stefano Fantacone and Laura Cotterli, examine the contingent and structural shortcomings of the Pact and give a critical overview of the reforms proposed to remedy them. They emphasise, in particular, the need to introduce new mechanisms that take cyclical factors into due account and would make it possible to concentrate more on the structural components of national budgets. They also suggest that revision of the rules of the Pact should be accompanied by a relaunching of the process of coordination and reform of European economies, particularly those of the euro-zone. In this context, more effective action on the part of governments in achieving structural reform of their economies could be rewarded by the application of less stringent financial parameters.

The article by Paolo Pombeni addresses a more general question underlying the current process of constitutional renovation of the European Union, that is, the construction of a stronger European identity as the foundation of the new constitution. Offering a conceptual discussion of the identity-constitution nexus that takes into account the main theories on the subject, he notes that the question of identity can be solved only through both the definition of a “common destiny” and the construction of a common law. But the two elements can be separated only artificially since they necessarily coexist in all constituent processes. What are needed are, on the one hand, common social and cultural elements with solid historic roots and, on the other, the leadership ability to transform them into a new constitutional subject. Moving from this premise, Pombeni reviews the various proposals concerning the European Union’s fundamental constitutional objectives and missions to be incorporated into the new constitutional charter. He criticises the idea of building the European constitutional identity on historical myths - more or less resuscitated - since this would inevitably give rise to divisive ideological struggles, and instead stresses the need for a deeper rethinking of the key elements of Europe’s constitutional experience and ideology.

The section on Italy’s foreign policy hosts two articles that revolve around the question of whether the main orientations of the country’s foreign policy, now in the hands of new leaders, have substantially changed in recent times. Roberto Aliboni gives a partially positive answer, identifying some notable differences between the foreign policy of the current government and that of previous ones. He notes that while the Berlusconi government has reasserted Italy’s commitment to deeper integration within the EU, it has also emphasised its intention to follow, at least in principle, a line of greater national assertiveness in the European framework. Moreover, Italy’s diplomacy is now concentrating on bilateral relations and initiatives - as opposed to multilateral ones - more than in the past. In this context, the search for preferential ties with the US has gained a new centrality. According to Aliboni, this growing bilateralism reflects a vision of international relations that seems to take a general trend towards a declining role of multilateral institutions for granted. By contrast, in the article that follows, Leopoldo Nuti emphasises the elements of continuity in US-Italy relations. Nuti argues that the extraordinary importance that the US has taken on in Italy’s international relations predates the Cold War and has remained unaltered after the end of it. He also underlines that Italian leaders have continuously found in their support for US foreign policy initiatives a major source of political legitimisation both at home and abroad. In particular, according to Nuti, Berlusconi’s choice of an atlanticist orientation also has to be attributed to his ideological affinity with the Bush administration as well as to his desire to give Italy greater freedom of action on the international scene. The section concludes with an article by Antonio Armellini examining the initiatives undertaken at the international level and in Italy to counter international terrorism. In the first part of the article, Armellini deals with the role of the international organisations, giving an overview of the vast array of new policies and instruments they have recently set up to fight the terrorist threat. He then concentrates on Italy’s specific contribution, underlining that it is also quite multi-faceted in that it has involved not only the creation of new mechanisms for operational coordination but also the swift and extensive adaptation of national legislation. His conclusion is that terrorism as a pervasive and long-term phenomenon requires a comprehensive and integrated global strategy that will necessarily continue to affect both the institutional machinery and the legal framework of western societies. This will imply a continued process of adaptation in which the flexibility needed to respond effectively to the new threats will have to be reconciled with the preservation of the fundamental values and principles of western culture.