Tommaso Bernabo' is a Durham University student and a member of the Durham Italian Society.

The 11th century Great Hall of Durham Castle, a magical venue made famous by the Harry Potter movies was earlier this week filled by 200 students looking for answers on the future of the European Union. 

The event, organised by the Durham University Italian Society in collaboration with the Wake Up Europe! campaign, kicked off with a screening of the docu-drama The Great European Disaster Movie and was followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers. Many European nationalities were represented in the audience, which itself reflected the transnational nature of the Wake Up Europe! campaign.

The event was expertly moderated by Dr Christian Schweiger, Senior Lecturer in European Affairs at Durham, who ‘took the temperature’ of the room’ with a few general questions by show of hand. It turned out that the majority of the audience felt European, considered the EU to be a good thing and thought that it was worth saving it.

But Dr Schweiger warned: “In spite of a general positive attitude towards the EU many people felt that the EU was lacking purpose and direction. Points that were particularly emphasised were the EU's lack of focus on reducing inequality in the member states and the inability to tackle crises. Member of the audience also criticised that the national debates on the EU were often ill-informed and equally lacked purpose.”

Questions were also raised on a wide range of topics: from the securities market and the development of the Capital Markets Union, to the role played by individual EU countries. The discussion touched on recent developments in Poland and Germany as well as the looming question of the EU membership referendum in the UK. Possible future scenarios were explored, ranging from a much more developed common European foreign policy to Turkey’s membership of the club.

We are proud to have hosted such a successful night of informed debate on such a critical and topical issue. And we are also pleased that the audience – despite their criticism of the EU and concern for the crises besetting Europe-  concluded that Europe was still very much worth saving.


From time to time we'll share exclusive interview clips (including never-seen-before footage), the most incisive blog posts and the most interesting dispatches from our event organisers as they take the europe debate to the furthest, biggest, smallest, weirdest, most unusual places around europe and beyond.

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Wake Up Europe is a campaign brought to you by the Wake Up Foundation. It was sparked by the themes explored in The Great European Disaster Movie by Annalisa Piras and Bill Emmott.

We believe in the values that inspired the European project but that this project isn't working. Europe is sleep-walking towards disaster. We must wake up Europe so that we can save Europe from itself.

This job is too important to be left to the elites, the media, the political parties alone: ordinary people must be encouraged to discuss what Europe they want to see.


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