On Monday, 26 October 2015, the Young European Movement St Andrews held a screening of The Great European Disaster Movie in their second event of the academic year.
The film served as a starting point for a lively debate on the European Union. Attendees discussed with great vigour the question of whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union, drawing attention to both the advantages and disadvantages of union membership.
Organiser Isaac Leaver introducing the debate
While no ultimate consensus was reached on this question, both supporters and opponents of Britain’s EU membership stressed the importance of a fair and objective referendum campaign. The electorate should be provided with as much information as possible to enable it to vote based on knowledge rather than ill-informed assumptions.
Asked by show of hand how optimistic or pessimistic they felt about the future of the European project a slight majority in the room opted for the latter. The pessimists pointed out that the post-War order has been successful up to a point but has lacked reform over the last 20 years. It was felt that the film, while critical of the EU in this respect, did not seem to show any solutions. Austerity, and the fact that no efforts had been made to solve the imbalance in the economy, were also cited as a reason for pessimism.
The audience were also asked what they would change if they could alter one thing about the EU. That kicked off a debate on the advantages of an EU-wide wealth tax in order to recalibrate inequality in the EU, while another strain of debate was among those who wanted to dissolve the Euro and those who wanted to keep it.
Asked how European they felt, members of the audience discussed the difference between rational and emotional feeling. The different dimension of European identity felt in Scotland compared to England was also mentioned.
Ultimately the creation of a European identity was seen by many in the room as linked to people’s level of education about what the EU is and does, which was felt to be lacking across Europe.
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