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Italy-EU Relations

Italy has been one of the leading actors in the long and not always easy undertaking of building a Europe without borders and trade barriers. In 1941 Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi had already outlined a Federal Europe in their Ventotene Manifesto. It was only after the war, however, that Europe really began to feel the political need to eliminate the causes of conflict between the major players on this side of the Iron Curtain. Thus in 1949 the Council of Europe was born - a body with an exclusively consultative function founded by France, Great Britain, Belgium and Ireland which, however, has always remained outside the institutional framework of the European Community.

Almost a year later, on 18 April 1951, the first stone of the community construction was laid: the six founding countries signed the Treaty establishing the ECSC, setting up an independent supranational High Authority in Luxembourg with the task of enforcing common rules for the production and trade of coal and steel. The Conferences of Messina (1955) and Venice (1956), followed by the signing in Rome in 1957 of the Treaties establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), gave impetus to the idea of an increasingly integrated Europe.

With the institution of a European Union (EU) in 1992 in Maastricht with the signing of the treaty of the same name, Europe marked a new stage in the process of creating ever-increasing unity among the peoples of Europe, in which decisions are taken as openly and with the citizen in mind as possible, Maastricht represented an authentic turning point in the process of European integration. What had until then been commonly known as the EEC (European Economic Community) became The European Community (EC) and the first pillar of the European Union. The Maastricht Treaty also introduced new policies and forms of cooperation in the sector of foreign policy and security (the second pillar), and in the sector of justice and internal affairs (third pillar).

The 1999 Kosovo campaign demonstrated to Italy the difference in military capabilities between the United States and Europe, especially in strategic mobility assets and strategic and tactical intelligence systems. This meant that Europe (and Italy) must focus on those fields, as well as on increasing cooperative development efforts with the United States. Italy believed that the US will remain the leading country in high-technology for many years.

Italy strongly supports the development of a consolidated European armaments process. The urgency for a consolidated European approach stems from the creation of large defense industrial companies elsewhere and from increased global competition. Italy supported the efforts of the thirteen Western European Armament Group (WEAG) countries to eventually create a European Armaments Agency (EAA), recognizing that there are still many obstacles. These included the political issues associated with surrendering some aspects of national economic, social, and security plans to a European structure.

In November 1996, Italy, along with France, Germany, and the UK, became signatories to the establishment of the Organization Conjointe de Cooperation en mateire dArmement (OCCAR) to handle selected multi-national programs. One major aim of OCCAR is to create European synergism and standardization with respect to acquisition procedures, policy standards and product standards. Italy viewed OCCAR to be an important first step toward the creation of the EAA.




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