The passing of time is unable to erase from memory those people who profoundly made their mark in history and who continue to be a living point of reference for the definition of values and ideas that form the basis of civil life.
It is therefore an honour to be able to offer our contribution on the life and political commitment of Alcide De Gasperi.
The leader of Christian Democracy; President of the Council for eight years; leading proponent of the reconstruction and reconciliation of Italy after the trauma of the Second World War. Founder and Father of European Unity, the European project was designed as an instrument to ensure peace and development, even against the Communist threat, and to overcome the divisions that unfortunately marked European countries in that dramatic global conflict. A multifaceted personality, he was a statesman who laid the foundations for the birth and development of Italy and of the Europe where our fathers and grandfathers had lived.
For us, however, today’s children of that generation, in what country and on what continent are we preparing to live? The question is a legitimate one. De Gasperi, like Schuman and Adenauer, have all been invoked in recent months when the European dream seems to be wavering, dangerously even. Brexit, the threat of terrorism, nationalist resurgence, the mistakes and egotism of certain Member States faced with immigration often bring to mind the potential conclusion of that major European project that started 60 years ago with the Treaty of Rome.
However, the European spirit embodied by De Gasperi endures and has been successively embraced by many political personalities. We, the children of a united Europe, must make our contribution. It is a no lesser figure than the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, who follows the example of the major statesmen of Italian Europeanism in the post-war period, with Alcide de Gasperi at the pinnacle.
The world is now the stage to face the challenges of the future. More security, free and equal competition on international markets, countering any form of violence and threat, development and innovation, activities for the protection of the environment: all actions that we will be able to establish only by consolidating the rationale for unity over divisions between states.
De Gasperi knew this well. He also was the son of a ‘land in between,’ born in then Austrian Trentino. He was a Member of the Imperial Parliament in Vienna representing the Italian minority, before becoming Secretary of the Italian People’s Party under Luigi Sturzo. With an awareness of borders from his direct experience of the failure of the Italian Liberal State and the Weimar Republic, including even the pain of incarceration, it was very clear to him what the needs were for his people, for whom he worked diligently and achieved the success that history now recognises.
This is what De Gasperi’s profound current relevance rests on. He conducted his political life with dedication, altruism and generosity of spirit. These values must be a source of inspiration for the representatives and politicians of our generation. His firm belief in an Italy anchored to the West and to Europe and faithful to his Christian and popular traditions, against extremism and in favour of choices based on the robustness of good sense are still values that guide the Group of European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament. These are the goals we must work towards to reaffirm the peace, liberty and development our fathers bestowed on us.
Manfred WEBER MEP
Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament
Lara COMI MEP
Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament