The decline of public confidence in the EU is the most dangerous of the crises facing Europe

This article was originally published on Britaly Post 

People are asking whether the EU can really function and make decisions on issues like the refugee flows, but above all they are wondering what the point of the EU is if it cannot deal with collective problems like this. A British-Italian team has now launched an initiative to help people all over Europe find their own answers to that question. It is called Wake Up Europe!

The 'Britalian' team consists of your present author (yes, I am British) and an Italian journalist-cum-filmmaker, Annalisa Piras. You might remember that we collaborated on a documentary about Italy two years ago, Girlfriend in a Coma, which woke quite a few people up, especially after the MAXXI art museum in Rome abruptly cancelled our planned Italian premiere, claiming the film was too political to be shown (even privately) during an election campaign.

The support we received then from so many Italians, both in Italy and in Britain, inspired us to set up an educational charity, the Wake Up Foundation, to take and use our films and other work and provide them freely both for public education and for schools and universities. Hence the Wake Up Europe! initiative, which is offering our new documentary, The Great European Disaster Movie free of charge to anyone able and willing to assemble an audience, big or small, to see the film, to hold a debate and then to share the findings with us and others.

We’ve just launched this, not only online but with public screenings and debates in Brussels and Warsaw. At our event in Brussels, at the beautiful Bibliotheque Solvay, we screened the film in front of an audience of media, European officials and activists, followed by a debate ably moderated by Sky TG24’s Giovanna Pancheri. Apart from Annalisa and me, on the panel were a British Labour MEP, Richard Corbett, and a Spanish expert on the migration crisis, Carmino Montera Martinez of the London-based Centre for European Reform.

Our hope is to trigger a pan-European conversation and to inspire civic groups all over the EU to form and organize their own activities, discussions and initiatives. We are trying, in other words, to generate leadership, by offering the film as a tool and our website and social media as a channel, but leaving every group that uses it to come up with their own ideas and own plans.

We wished we had had the foundation when we were touring Italy with Girlfriend in a Coma, since it could have enabled us to achieve so much more. Nevertheless, a number of civic society groups launched themselves, or gained new energy, as a result of seeing and using the film. So our ambition with Wake Up Europe! is to build on that experience.

Although Annalisa Piras and I both have our own views about Europe, about where it has gone wrong but also about why it is worth reforming and saving, the principal aim of this new initiative is to leave audiences and participating groups to draw their own conclusions, to come up with their own views.

The film is quite suitable for that. It contains five sections each devoted to a particular value associated with the European Union: economic integration and the euro; welfare and the social model; free movement of people; equal rights and democracy; and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. So in a guidance pack for debate organisers we have suggested that they could structure their debates around these values, posing questions about what is going wrong, what needs to be done, and whether these values are meaningful any longer.

So do come and join us. Let’s Wake Up Europe! together.

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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