1.1 THE HISTORICAL DIMENSION Looking at the geopolitical map of Europe at the beginning of the twentyﬁrst century, many unprecedented achievements characterise in various respects the evolution of the picture. For the ﬁrst time, in fact, since Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire in the ninth century, most of the European continent, that is, nowadays around 400 millions of citizens, are again united and in peace. For the ﬁrst time in the entire history of Europe, this uniﬁcation has taken place peacefully, according to the democratic will of the European people. For the ﬁrst time, at least since the last century, a set of countries have autonomously decided to relinquish to a supranational authority the control of one of the key symbols of a nation, the national currency, without however renouncing their political independence and their national identity.1 And the list could continue with many other innovations. It is then natural to wonder how all these processes could have happened in such a relatively short period of time (less than 60 years), and what have been the driving forces behind them. A good starting point is to bear in mind that in Europe, historically, every period of war has ended with one or more treaties which have deeply changed the nature of the cohabitation of the states in the continent. The Treaty of Westfalia in 1648 ended the Thirty Years’ War and balanced the power between European states, establishing the principles of individual sovereign nations that continue to shape the...
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