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After his ACELG guest lecture on 25 February we talk with Massimo Fichera about art as inspiration for academic work, very different thinkers sharing common traits and crisis as catalyst for EU integration.

Massimo Fichera

You start your presentation with allegories, relating art works to governance and the European Union. Does art serve as a source of inspiration for your academic work?

Curiously enough, I have never explicitly thought of art as a source of inspiration for my work. However, I must recognise it does play an important role, perhaps unconsciously. I often rely on pictures and graphs when I work on my theories. Sometimes I find analogies between the image I have in mind and some existing painting or sculpture; other times art triggers an idea or concept that may serve as a starting point for further reflections. The ‘Allegory of the Good and Bad Government’ by the Italian painter Lorenzetti, which I relied upon for my ACELG presentation, belongs to the first category.


While we are on sources of inspiration: what are your sources of inspiration for the conceptual framework you use for your book ‘The Foundations of the European Union as a Polity?’

The conceptual framework I use in my book draws on a specific line of thought that in my view can be traced in several works belonging to different disciplines, especially philosophy, legal and political theory and constitutional law. This includes Machiavelli, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Santi Romano, Mortati, Böckenförde, MacCormick and many others. Admittedly, these are very different thinkers, but with some common traits.


How did you arrive at the insight of the importance of crisis and conflict as part of the EU’s further development and process of integration?

This is the result both of my theoretical background and of empirical observation. I believe that an analysis of the historical development of the EU from its early origins to the current state of affairs shows that both crisis and conflict have always been very important. However, conflict has often been either concealed or not taken into account appropriately. Contrary to what is commonly believed, this has been a weakness, rather than a strength. In my view, as the EU reaches an advanced stage of integration, it is essential that conflict is addressed more openly. This means, for example, that key issues ought to be debated and decided.


You seem to take an optimistic attitude towards the challenging situation the EU is facing at the moment. Can you elaborate on this?

Despite the very difficult situation, this is a crucial moment for the EU – almost a ‘constitutional moment’, if you wish. Precisely because of what I said before, it is a good opportunity for the EU to move forward. We are likely to witness some significant changes in the EU in the short and medium term, but supranational integration,  in some form, will continue.


Information about Massimo Fichera's guest lecture on 'European Constitutionalism, Crisis and the Security of the European Project’ on 25 February 2019