Fifty years ago, on 27 March 1957, Italy, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg signed one of the most important treaties in modern European history. The Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union. The EU numbers over half a billion citizens, from 27 member states, speaking 23 official languages and scores of regional ones.
Although it might seem that this united Europe simply rose, during the dark, chill days of the cold war, like a phoenix from the ashes of the death and destruction of World War II, it did not just simply happen. Along with many others, Italy’s first post-war prime minister, Alcide De Gasperi, played a significant role in bringing forth this new, unified Europe.
History remembers De Gasperi, a tall, rather austere man, as responsible for much of Italy’s post-war reconstruction. Believing strongly that Italy needed to restore its influential role on the international stage, he worked tirelessly for the implementation of the Marshall Plan and for creating close economic ties with other European countries, especially France.