When the going gets tough, democracy gets going

The European Parliament has voted to give the EU the power to directly address pandemics. No, not a week ago. Thirty-six years ago.

 It was the “Altiero Spinelli project”, named after one of the prominent figures of European federalism, who also gave his name to the main EP building.

The proposal included many other reforms that would have transformed the “European Community” in a federal and democratic institution. The “Spinelli project” was then rejected by national Governments, unwilling to give up competences even if they were needed to face new major global challenges.

Nowadays, covid19 is an addition to the list of issues having overwhelmed nation States: financial crisis, migration crisis, climate change, not to mention a number of conflicts or technological challenges to which Governments are responding in an isolated and mostly ineffective way.

On Thursday,  March 19th (from 2 pm to 6pm) and Friday the 20th (from 9.30 to 1.30 pm) the first meeting of the “Council on participatory democracy - How EU can survive Covid19” will take place online. 

European federalism is not “trendy” anymore. Talking about institutions, the subsidiarity principle, the EU budget: all this is boring, isn’t it? Maybe. But our present (not just our future) and our lives literally depend on it.

EU Treaties include some weak and insufficient tools of civic participation: European Citizens’ Initiatives, Petitions to the EP, judicial remedies and an Ombudsman. Let’s unbury them to propose an immediate reaction to the covid19 crisis and structural reforms to prevent all this from happening again. By doing that, we would be better equipped to face the challenges that will come back as serious as ever once the virus is, hopefully soon, defeated.

Bad national politics made us all lose thirty-six years. Let’s try not to waste the dire straits of the coming days. 


Register now to join the 1st Meeting of the Council on Participatory Democracy

***Marco Cappato is the Coordinator of the “World Congress for freedom of scientific Research”, Treasurer of “Luca Coscioni Association” and founder of the Pan-European political movement Eumans.  He is the co-promoter of two European Citizens Initiatives: “A price for carbon to fight climate change” (stopglobalwarming.eu) and “For the respect of the rule of law in the European Union” (formyrights.eu). As a nonviolent political leader in Italy, Marco Cappato led a number of political initiatives for civil rights and human rights through referendum, civil disobedience, strategic litigation and other democratic tools of political participation. Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2009.