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The first part of the essay reconstructs the main features, stages and problems of the European integration process, the logic of which has always been functionalist as opposed to constitutionalist. The second considers Italy’s position vis-à-vis the forthcoming European deadlines in a scenario characterised by "constitutional precariousness", the globalisation of money markets and the Germany’s function as continental leader. The third section, finally, analyses the issues of labour, development and social guarantees within the perspective defined by third-generation capitalism, marked by liberty and solidarity with the principle of responsibility as its ethical-political cornerstone and self-government as its fundamental institutional tool. To achieve a set-up of this kind, Italy can and must see Community deadlines as a great opportunity and external driving force.