Join Us! Twitter Live on Europe's Summer of Elections with Bill Emmott


 Discuss, debate and argue your ideas with like-minded activists

WUF invites you to debate Europe’s summer of elections with our Chairman Bill Emmott and Wake Up Europe! activists across the continent.

 Bill will be discussing Europe’s summer of elections in a Twitter live Q&A on Wednesday 31 May from 13:00-13:30BST. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #wakeupeurope, you can also submit questions for Bill in advance over emailFacebook or Twitter - we’ll be sure to include them.

 In advance of the live Q&A, we are delighted to make available the Europe chapter of Bill’s latest book The Fate of the West, on our website thanks to donated rights by the author.

 How it works:

1. Submit your question on Twitter by using the hashtag #wakeupeurope, you can either post your question in advance or join us live.

2. Bill will answer your questions from 13:00 - 13:30 BST on Wednesday 31 May. We’d love to hear from you - let’s make this lively!

3. Remember, you don’t need to have Twitter to follow the debate - just search for the hashtag #wakeupeurope to see a live stream of the discussion.

4. Once the live Q&A is over, we’ll share a summary for those who couldn’t make it.

5. Bill has kindly donated a copy of the book to give away to whoever asks the best question, and has made available free-of-charge the Europe chapter here, we’d love to know what you think.

Join the debate. Keep up the argument. Remember, silence is deadly

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Get Europe thinking, talking - and acting

Europe needs your help. In all its nations, a battle between hope and anger is under way, as France's election has shown. This summer we will be relaunching Wake Up Europe with a new film and to campaign for the reforms needed to restore Europe's core values. Your ideas, your energy and your support will be vital

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THE FATE OF THE WEST: It's in Our Hands

In the coming weeks, citizens across Europe will go to the polls in some of the most significant elections for generations.

In France, the far-right Front National has once again made it to the second round run-off of the Presidential elections. Much of their support comes from young people, making the prospect of a Le Pen Presidency feel more threatening than ever.

In the UK, a soaring victory for the Conservatives in June is all but guaranteed. A weak and divided opposition is proving incapable of challenging the government's march towards a hard Brexit.

Earlier this month, we saw a Turkish referendum outcome that will secure Erdogan's personal power for years to come,
 in a further blow to the country’s prospects.

In these countries and others, terrorist attacks continue to punctuate unfolding political events.

All across Europe, there is much to be angry about.


But there is reason for hope, too.

If Emmanuel Macron wins in France, it would be a major buck to the populist trend that has characterised Western politics in recent months. It would open up the chance both for renewal of France's vitality and of the Franco-German relationship that has always proved essential for European collaboration. 

For the decline of liberal democracies is not inevitable. As Bill Emmott argues in his new book, The Fate of the West, revival is eminently possible and even probable, as long as we all push for it. In the coming weeks, The Wake Up Foundation will be making extracts available online, and Bill will conduct discussions about the book's arguments on our website, social media channels and at events. We would love you to be involved and will share details for participating soon. 

Also we have an update on The Wake Up Foundation 2050 Index, an online resource we launched in January assessing countries’ future-readiness. Excitingly, we have news of Annalisa Piras’s new film on the migrant crisis, Europe at Sea, which will be the topic of a dedicated newsletter soon.

It is clear that The Wake Up Foundation’s mission is more important than ever.

We have big ambitions to grow our movement. We will shortly be launching a brand new website and we are working on some really exciting projects. We know you will be as fired up as we are by our plans. We'd love to hear from you about your own projects and your thoughts on our work, so do feel free to get in touch

Our message is urgent: let’s keep raising our voices and Wake Up Europe!

Best wishes,

Bill and Annalisa



In Bill Emmott’s forward-thinking new book, The Fate of the West, he lays out the changes the West must make to revive itself now and thrive in a better future. In the coming weeks, The Wake Up Foundation will be making extracts available online, and Bill will conduct discussions about the book’s arguments on our website, social media channels and at events. Bill will explain why, in order to regain its strength, the West needs to be porous, open, and flexible - we invite you to join the conversation and will be in touch soon with details of how to get involved. 


Western countries badly need to think more deeply about how to prepare themselves for the known trends of the 21st century, especially demography and technological innovation. The Wake Up Foundation 2050 Index  aims to encourage that thinking by comparing how future-proof rich western countries are now, and by writing regularly about economists' own debates. We hope you will get the opportunity to check-out the Index and tell us what you think

Europe at Sea


As the world experiences the greatest instability since the end of the Cold War, Europeans are increasingly filled with fear and insecurity. Is Europe able to protect itself against the challenges that are rising outside and within its borders? The migration crisis has highlighted how EU leaders are unprepared to tackle global phenomenons effectively. What will this mean for the future of 500 million citizens? Annalisa Piras's new documentary, Europe at Sea, co-produced by ARTE, SVT, Sky Italia and Rai Cinema, follows the EU Foreign Policy and Security Chief Federica Mogherini in pursuit of answers . We look forward to telling you more about the film soon.


The Wake Up Foundation in the News

Bill Emmott spoke to the Financial Times about how to keep the West Liberal

La Stampa
Europe on the Brink
Financial Times
It is time for a new liberal lexicon
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Vote "yes" on December 4 in Italy (with a "but")

A time-bomb is ticking away in the heart of Europe, carrying a label marked ‘Made in Italy’. It could yet be defused. But if it goes off, it would make Brexit look like a lot of fuss about nothing.


            The time-bomb has been laid by Italy’s young, reformist prime minister, Matteo Renzi. The potential trigger is the referendum he has called for December 4th on reforms to the country’s constitution. The explosive content is that his fiercest and strongest opposition, the Five Star Movement, is also young, reformist, and wants a referendum held on Italy’s membership of the euro. And it is running neck and neck with Mr Renzi’s party in national polls.


            Five Star is campaigning for a “no” vote, even though it is a big potential beneficiary of a related reform that is not on the Dec 4 ballot, namely a new electoral law that would make it possible for the party led by former comedian Beppe Grillo to win an absolute majority in a general election – and so hold its euro referendum.


                Wake Up Europe believes a “yes” is the right vote next Sunday. But it should be a “yes” with a strong call, from all political forces and citizens groups, to have the electoral law changed by Parliament as soon as possible.


            The stakes couldn’t be higher. Populism and Euroscepticism are all the rage, throughout Europe. But that matters most when a party pursuing such anti-establishment goals has a serious chance of entering government. That is where Italy comes in: if a general election were held tomorrow, the Five Star Movement would have a serious chance of winning. If it were to do so, the mere hint of a referendum on the euro would send financial markets haywire.


            A general election does not have to be held tomorrow: the next one is not due until 2018. However, that is not far away, and an early election could become conceivable if Mr Renzi were to lose his referendum on December 4th.


            On the arguments, he doesn’t deserve to do so. The December referendum – which is required under Italy’s constitution – concerns a set of changes to the country’s political institutions that are designed to make it more governable, and to open the way to liberalizing, pro-growth reforms that are long overdue.


            Quite reasonably, Mr Renzi proposes to abolish the elected upper house, the Senate, and replace it with a house with reduced powers made up of nominees from regional assemblies. Until now, the Senate has held identical powers to Italy’s lower house, but generally with a differing political complexion, so it has blocked many major items of reform.


            Mr Renzi also proposes, quite reasonably, to abolish one of the country’s four layers of government, the provinces, which lie between cities and regions and simply reinforce the country’s susceptibility to corruption. Moreover he wants to shift decisions over major items of infrastructure up from lower levels of government to national level, to make them less prone to blockage by local interest groups.


            Italy is a country which passes an abundance of laws, but fairly few of which make a real difference to policy or society. Mr Renzi wants to change that. The trouble is, that in order to do so he wants to make his own office, the prime ministership, more powerful. He has done that in part through the new electoral law for the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, passed in 2015 and designed to ensure the country has strong governments by handing out a bonus of extra seats to whichever party comes top in an election.


            It makes sense in theory. But in practice this, in combination with the Senate’s abolition, will greatly reduce the checks and balances in place. This raises fear of a new Mussolini coming to power. Perhaps, ill-wishers think, that could be Mr Renzi himself. Or it could be the Five Star Movement.


            The referendum is complicated and raises plenty of causes for concern. But the background to it is worse. Italy has been the worst-performing euro-area economy since the 2008 crash, barring Greece. Nothing Mr Renzi has done has changed that. The economy is still bumping along the bottom, with unemployment above 11% of the workforce and incomes flat or falling.


            No wonder he is not popular, especially in his own party, and no wonder that current polls imply he will lose the December 4th referendum. Before the summer, he recklessly promised he would leave politics if he loses in December, a promise he has since tried to wriggle away from.


                Whatever his view, the choice may not be his. When he entered office in February 2014, it was by a party coup, in which he unseated his predecessor, Enrico Letta, without a general election. The same could happen to him, after December 4th. The first aim would be to replace him with a safe, technocratic prime minister, or someone else from his own Democratic Party. But a general election could soon become unavoidable.


                The risks to Europe and to the world are huge. The Five Star Movement is not a party of far-right devils along the lines of France’s Front National, nor of Donald Trump. It is peopled by young professionals desperate to drive out corruption and renew their country. It deserves sympathy and support. But it is a party without coherent policies or organization, led by a comedian, Beppe Grillo, and driven by naïve dreams of internet-based participatory democracy.


              Those dreams have already been exposed as mere chaos by the Five Star mayor of Rome, Veronica Raggi, elected in May and who has struggled even to form a full council, let alone to carry out any reforms.


                This has not yet had a noticeable impact on Five Star’s national polling. That is because it is a pure protest movement, against the establishment of which even the young Mr Renzi forms a part. Five Star remains strong because Italy has, so far, proved immune to radical change.


                There is still time for Mr Renzi to defuse this time-bomb. To do so, he would need to convince his country that he is the one who can bring radical, prosperity-enhancing change, not Five Star. Most of all, though, he needs to reform his own constitutional reforms, altering the electoral law to make it less prone to bring to power a new Mussolini. We can all remember how he ended up.


Bill Emmott

Chairman The Wake Up Foundation



This is an adapted version of an article that appeared in the December edition of Prospect


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Trump is Europe's wake-up call

Wake Up! 

Europe is now on its own. The election of Donald Trump to the White House means that the European Union must now shed all illusions. It will stand, or fall, on the basis of its own efforts, own resources, own political will.

Muddling through, the constant refrain of the complacent, must be rejected, wholeheartedly. To rely on gradualism, incremental reforms, kicking cans down the road, is to make collapse ever likelier. 

Just as after the Brexit referendum on June 23rd, the happiest people on the European continent now will be President Vladimir Putin and Marine Le Pen.

Russia's president will be happy because western unity over Ukraine, sanctions and Syria will now be in serious doubt. He will have someone in the White House who reminds him of Silvio Berlusconi: someone always eager for a deal.

Marine Le Pen will be happy because no one can now treat her ambition to win the French presidency next May as impossible. It may still be unlikely. But so was the idea of America voting for a candidate who is a racist, misogynist, serial liar and whose few concrete policy proposals include renouncing free trade deals and blocking immigration.

So Europe needs to wake up and make its own coffee. It needs to shake its economies out of their jobless torpor by relaxing fiscal austerity, building more infrastructure and building a proper single market.

It needs to shake its foreign policy out of its defeatist, nationalist torpor by acting together, in the Mediterranean, in coping with asylum-seekers, in supporting the Baltic States in standing up to Russia.

It needs to become Europe again, instead of a squabbling bunch of complacent losers. 

The Wake Up Foundation

November 9th 2016

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Letter to Donald Tusk

Dear Mr Tusk

In our drama-documentary The Great European Disaster Movie, we warned that Europe was sleep-walking towards disaster. 

We take no pleasure at all in pointing out that much of what we foretold in the film is now coming true.

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What is to be done?

The great European disaster is unfolding. We take no pleasure in seeing the nightmarish vision portrayed as fiction in The Great European Disaster Movie becoming fact.

The message of that film and of our Wake Up Europe campaign is, however, more important than ever: that we must wake up all European citizens to fight to defend the values that the European Union stands for – peace, openness, tolerance, equal human rights, solidarity.

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Britain inextricably tied to Europe

When Scotland voted in its own referendum back in 2014, many in the rest of the Union argued that they too should have a say in the country’s future.

A similar sentiment is rapidly emerging on the continent, with a growing sense that an important part of Europe’s own future is in the hands of a small fraction of its electorate. Europe’s fear is not only of a potential domino effect deriving from a Brexit vote, but of the loss of a powerful voice for Europe’s enlargement; one which has never quite been permitted to hit the highest notes that it was capable of singing.

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A European Network of Rebel Cities

In Europe, it is the cities that once again lead the way as places of radical innovation and democratic renewal – and provide answers to the challenges we face in our continent.

Since the late Middle Ages, cities in Europe have played a crucial role as places of production, craft, artistic and cultural creation, as nodes of extensive trade networks, and as spaces of individual and collective liberation from previous constrains of servitude.

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Jo Cox's Fund to support work of Hope not Hate

Anti-racism campaigner Nick Lowles, CEO of Hope not Hate, shared a meal with Jo Cox's husband the night before she was brutally murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency in Leeds, England. 

As well as being a long-standing family friend, Nick had also worked with Jo Cox on campaigns to combat the fear and hatred that breeds so much violence in the world, and that sadly has also characterised the European referendum debate in the UK in the last few months.

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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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