March for Europe on 25 March 2017 – Enthusiasm?

We represented the SIP Forum on 25 March in Rome at the march for a more united and more democratic Europe. You may have seen news and updates on the media. Due to some people’s lack of enthusiasm, we had decided to wait while gathering our thoughts before sharing our opinions on paper.

 On a positive note, the march for Europe in Rome took place at the same time as many similar ones in other European cities. We can say that those who were in favour of a more democratic and united Europe were undoubtedly heard. What is more, in Rome there had been three days worth of debates and conferences in which each group was able to express their own opinions on the making of a new Europe.

 Then, why are we not enthusiastic?

In our view, none of the self-celebrations will be of much use: the Federalists with 3000 people in Piazza della Verità, the Police for keeping the march safe, trade unions and civil society organizations for the highest numbers, extreme right groups for attracting media attention, another right-wing party for its successful meeting in a theatre, the Head of State for doing the honours, the Italian President for supporting ideas of a Europe which does not exist,…

Those who did go to Rome, at the end of the day would rather have seen all groups reach one common objective, despite all differences: to change the current European model based on finance and money. In the end, the situation reflected nothing but the exact, current image of Europe: a fragmented Europe, shy, afraid and who will only “stick up” for those (especially financially) in power.

The message should have been clear: despite all differences, we all want another Europe, one based on democracy, freedom, solidarity, equality and participation. This message was certainly well-worded, but there is still much work to do for it to become a common heritage for all governments over the political spectrum.

Would people really “celebrate” an event such as the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome by themselves?

Why were government representatives “isolated” by everyone else and kept in a separate cage? Heads of European states being afraid of marching among people does not seem likely.

How can it be that we are celebrating 60 years of Europe by being split in different groups, meeting in theatres or conference halls?

This has only led to an increase in nationalism, and those who use fear, populism and xenophobia – even though theoretically they claim they want to combat them.

For the purpose of public order, Rome was fenced up for only few of thousand people; on the same day, hundreds of thousands of people – perhaps a million – were able to attend the Pope’s visit in Milan under fewer constraints.

Renowned politicians took part in the march and gave speeches in a theatre or in squares; but this is not enough to overcome the sense of tension, which wilfully fell on the event.

We ask ourselves why such a well-organised event was so easily downgraded. We do not believe we should join the current communitarian policy rhetoric, and therefore we do not feel like celebrating an event that made current heads of government look insensitive to requests made by people, and those politicians who spoke in conference halls or in Piazza della Verità from portable stages.

Be it as it may the marches in Rome and other European cities were a true act of democracy which perhaps irritates those currently in power, and this per se means that the journey we have begun is a positive one. But we cannot drop our guard, nor cease to make our voices heard everywhere in the EU when demanding a new Europe: more democratic, united and especially, not tied to finance and capital. A Europe which must be respectful of human dignity, the environment, and of soil too!

We would like our message to be point n.7 of the presidency statement of the Italian Council of the European Movement (CIME in Italian) of 4 April 2017:

“7) The message from the Mayor, which released during the popular march in Rome to make Europe more united, supportive, democratic, and therefore more impactful at a global level and able to develop a global peace policy, must be taken in within reason. Words are not enough without a clear follow-up in projects, method and agenda; if none of these are implemented this message may be disregarded quickly, and contradicted, which is what happened with the Visegrad countries and Austria shortly after the signing’

We really hope we got the wrong impression, and that our lack of enthusiasm with the march could be proved wrong. If any of the readers were present and had a different impression, please share them with us.

                                                                        Mario Catizzone: catizma@gmail.com