Giovanni Agnelli was born in Piedmont,
in 1866. His father was Edoardo Agnelli, the wealthy mayor of Villar Perosa.
After studying at the expensive private school, Collegio San Guiuseppe, he
spent time in the military. After experimenting in the development of
motorised tricycles he founded Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) in
Agnetti visited the
United States several times before the
First World War
and after observing the success of
Agnetti took an increasing interest in politics and in 1918 joined the
campaign against the formation of the League of Nations. Instead he urged
the establishment of "a federation of European states under a central power
which governs them." He thought this would maintain peace in Europe. Agnetti
also argued it would help economic growth: "Only
a federal Europe will be able to give us a more economic realization of the
division of labour, with the elimination of all customs barriers."
In 1920 Agnetti
suggested that Fiat might be transformed into a cooperative managed by the
workers. However, he soon abandoned this idea and gave his support to
Second World War
Agnetti played an important role in mobilizing Italian industry.
died in 1945.
Giovanni Agnelli, European Federation or League of Nations (1918)
Without hesitation we believe that, if we really want to make war in Europe
a phenomenon which cannot be repeated, there is only way to do so and we
must be outspoken enough to consider it: a federation of European states
under a central power which governs them. Any other milder version is but a
example which shows how one community, for its very survival, has had to
change from a league of sovereign and independent states to a more complex
form of a union of states ruled by a central power, is given with
unsurpassable clarity by the history of the United States of America. As is
well known, they went through two constitutions: the first, drawn up by a
Congress of 13 states in 1776 and approved by these same states in February
1781; the second, approved by the national Convention of September 17th 1787
and which came into force in 1788.
between the two documents explains why the first failed, threatening the
independence and freedom itself of the young Union, while the second has
created a Republic, which we now all admire.
In Europe we had
reached this level of absurdity, that every factory that arose in one state
was a thorn in the side for every other state: that while the superb
inventions of steam applied to land and sea transport, of electricity as
motive power, of the telegraph and telephone had by then cancelled distance
and made the world one single large centre and international market, little
men strove with all their might to cancel the immense benefits of the big
discoveries, artificially creating isolated markets and small production and
consumption centres. . .
Only a federal
Europe will be able to give us a more economic realization of the division
of labour, with the elimination of all customs barriers.