The Altiero Spinelli Chair in Argentina

, par Fernando Iglesias

The Altiero Spinelli chair, dedicated to the study of European regional integration and its correlation with its similar attempts at the South American and Latin American level, was created in 2010 with the initiative of Doctor Raimondo Cagiano, director of the Italian University Consortium for Argentina (CUIA).
For several years, the Consortium organized a study programme on regional integration (EURAL) whose content was essentially technical. Doctor R. Cagiano, as an historical militant of the European federalist movement and promoter of the principles of regional and world federalism, realized that the course would not be complete without the presence of the federalist ideas that gave rise to the European Union. That is the reason he invited me to join the degree with a subject dedicated to that issue and to create a chair to promote federalist ideas in the Argentine academic environment.
Thus was born the Spinelli Chair, whose activities still continue although Doctor Cagiano no longer directs the Consortium and despite the absence of any financial and organizational support.
The main purpose of the Chair is to develop actions which, having Altiero Spinelli’s federalist thought as their nucleus, collaborate in the knowledge of his human and political figure and in the promotion of federalist values in Latin America. Through the implementation of various cultural and training activities, the organization of debates, exchanges, research and publications, knowledge of the importance of regional integration will be promoted, taking into account the model developed in Europe since 1949.
The professorship promotion activities have always been the most disparate, including conferences, training courses, debates, university exchanges and more ; combining the participation of outstanding exponents of the Argentine and European federalist thought.

Among them, we emphasize :

  • Some special readings in the Argentinian university context, such as the Political Science Degree of the Argentinian University of Business and Social Sciences (UCES) in which I taught a subject about Globalization Theory and Regional Blocks, the Chair of Integration Law of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), the International Relations career of the University of Belgrano (UB), the seat of the University of Bologna in Buenos Aires and the University of Pelota (Brasil).
  • The exchange program with the Young European Federalists (JEF-Europa).
  • The participation of the Chair and of young south americans and latin american federalists in the Ventotene Symposium.
  • CUIA Days in Argentina, with the aim of strengthening and promoting academic and scientific collaboration between Italian and Argentine universities, presenting the various inter-university activities that the Consortium promotes with a well-established network of local partners.
  • Some international conferences and activities, such as the Presentation conferences of the Manifiesto for a Global Democracy at the LSE London and the Senate of Rome, my annual meetings with representatives of the most important European federalist organizations, the UEF (Union of European Federalists) and JEF (Young European Federalists) such as Graham Watson (UK) Cecilia Wikström (Sweden), Gustavo Martín Prada, Andrew Duff, Cristian Wenning and Jo Leinen.

As you can see, the initiative developed in these years are countless, but surely the most important has been the annual celebration of the Altiero Spinelli Symposium, which this year has reached its 11th edition. Among its most notable editions, the following are worth highlighting :

  • The second edition, co-organized with the NGO Democracia Global, which had the participation of the European parliamentarians Jurgen Klute and Gianluca Susta, the Uruguayan deputy, Pablo Iturralde, and other academics and members of organizations of the civil society.
  • The fourth edition, organized together with the FENERI (National Federation of International Relations Students of Brazil) in Centro Cultural San Martín Buenos Aires. The Forum combined academic panels made up of experts in South American and European regional integration ; and a workshop organized to discuss the formation of a Regional Network of civil organizations for South American Integration. More than 150 attendees participated, including sixty international relations students from the University of Pelotas, Brazil ; as well as international academics and politicians, such as the Minister of Culture of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Dr. Hernán Lombardi, the Italian professors Luigi Moccia (Universitá di Roma) and Franco Praussello (Universitá di Genova), the ex ambassador of the European Union, Dr. Alfonso Diez Torres, Argentine senators Laura Montero (UCR) and María Eugenia Estenssoro (CC), and writers Alejandro Rozitchner and Juan José Sebreli.
  • The sixth edition of the Symposium at the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI) in 2016.
  • Using regional integration in a globalized world as a theme, I presented the campaign for the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Criminal Court against Organized Transnational Crime, with the presence of the ex Vice President of the Nation, Gabriela Michetti ; the ex Undersecretary for Criminal Policy of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Martín Casares ; the Director of the Group of Jurists for COPLA, Dr. Christian Cao and the Director of International Relations of the Ministry of Security, Dan Kucawka.
  • Among the attendees were representatives of the embassies of Latin America and Europe in Argentina and members of the Argentine Council for International Relations.

The support of the chair has also been essential for the development of some other activities that have been realized with the Mercosur commission of the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Republic, which I preside.
Such activities would have been impossible to organize with such limited staff and resources, so the participation of the members and partners of the Chair was essential.
In particular, during 2020 we developed an important discussion table on the "Agreement between Mercosur and the European Union : perspectives and challenges" led by four academic experts : Marisa Bircher, former Secretary of Foreign Trade of the Argentine Nation ; Detlef Nolte, Research Associate at the GIGA Institute in Germany ; Felix Peña, Argentine specialist in international economic relations and economic integration ; Alejandro D. Perotti, former legal consultant for the Mercosur Secretariat and José Antonio Sanahuja, special advisor for LATAM of the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy and Common Security.

Finally, in order to give continuity to the activities and find a way to promote them, those who have participated in the activities of the chair have agreed to create an Altiero Spinelli foundation. Unfortunately, the pandemic has strongly delayed its legal recognition, but its president, Dr. Christian Cao, professor of Theory of the State Chair at the Law School of the University of Buenos Aires, continues his efforts so that it is recognized and can give an official start of its activities.
For my part, I have nothing but gratitude to Doctor Acevedo and the volunteers of the chair, whose activities have earned me various recognitions, among them, the character of commander of the order of Italian solidarity, granted by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and the mention of the Prestigious Capalbio award.
In these uncertain times it is difficult to secure future action, but it is possible to express the wish that the chair and the Spinelli Foundation continue to be important actors in the dissemination of regional and global federalist thought : it would be also the best tribute to Spinelli, one of the greatest political heroes of the 20th century for his commitment to federalism and freedom.