THOUGH THE EARLY SIGNS OF European unity became evident only two centuries ago, the beginning of this process dates back to ancient times. The Hellenic and Roman cultures first, the Christian culture of the Middle Age and modern civilization afterwards have differently contributed to a dream and a project bearing varied fruits which were to mark, after a long ripening period, the cultural and moral heritage of the continent.
The main task and challenge facing European citizens today is to promote the awareness of a common European home, without suffocating or overlapping but rather supplementing the already existing patriotic and community spirit, and help unite the different limbs of a common body: our continent.
We are deeply convinced that Europe will never become a reality if it is to be built on the European Parliament, the European Monetary System or the Community quotas for agricultural production. Despite the unquestionable relevance of all these aspects, they will remain dead letter if not centred upon a Strong Idea: the EUROPEAN IDENTITY.
This IDENTITY shall encompass all national, local, religious and community differences and features. It shall reflect different but converging routes, under the banner of liberty and diversity.
European citizens want to form a union without losing any of their features or having to surrender their specificity. Today, Europe is divided into a western and a eastern side, a Baltic and a central region, a Euro-Asiatic and a Mediterranean area, each characterized by its own history and relations with the other parts of the world. This rich and multiform culture must be preserved and all its components safeguarded.
Similarly, Europe can no longer be identified with the “Western World”, since it only represents a form of civilization which, developed within the old continent, has now become the emblem of a culture centred on the American way of life. This culture tends to prevail over all traditions by wiping them out through a leveling process ultimately leading to an exasperated individualism and a society based on profit and consumption. Though stemming from a European culture and apparently preserving a European way of living and thinking, this society is oriented toward a globalization process, a barbaric mechanism of reification of values imposed by a number multinationals and guiding governs and political authorities, starting from those holding the leadership in the world.
Cultural institutions and schools are the principal responsible for the recovery. Interpretation and passing on of past traditions, of a sense of dignity and specificity necessary to the achievement of this ambitious goal of the European unity.
By encouraging an EUROPEAN IDENTITY we do not intend to promote a “western culture” which absorbs and dissolves all diversities in a leveling attempt. On the contrary, our aim is to enlarge this identity beyond the European boundaries, thus recovering that large part of our continent “outside Europe” – from Argentina to Canada and from South Africa to Australia – which looks at the old continent not as a distant ancestor but as a real homeland.
The ask of today’s European citizens is to build a European unity.
Our task is to help all citizens develop a European awareness.
Rimini, 19 aprile 1997