A visible measure of the success of this year’s CCBS guest speaker at the John Hewitt Summer School was the enthusiasm shown by the audience in addressing questions to Professor Paulo de Medeiros even long after the microphones had been withdrawn and the next event was due to begin. In his brilliantly crafted talk entitled “Mare Mortis: The Shipwrecking of Europe on the Rocks of Difference”, Professor de Medeiros of the University of Warwick questioned Europe’s current direction in the face of the deaths of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and the position taken by the European Union in relation to the situation in Greece. Having set out the challenge to “imagine another heading for Europe”, he warned that the European “ship of state, more resembling a ship of fools, has hit the rocks of difference, and, unable to resolve its inner contradictions, is rapidly sinking”. Professor de Medeiros’s powerful and rich analysis of Europe’s current crisis of identity and its root causes, which were seen as a betrayal of European ideals, ended by posing the possibility that “if European people felt that they really had a say in how to control their present they might feel differently about other people and might welcome their desire to also become European. Perhaps then one might speak again of a Europe where reality approximates the ideal”.
CCBS was delighted and honoured that Professor de Medeiros accepted the invitation to speak at this year’s John Hewitt International Summer School as the UK’s referendum on EU membership is one of three major themes the Centre will be working on over the coming months (with the other two being Wellbeing and a grass-roots vision for cross-border cooperation). As we analyse the possible practical consequences for cross-border cooperation of a renegotiated membership of the EU or an eventual Brexit, this is also an opportune moment for us to debate fundamental and underlying questions regarding Europe’s direction. The text of Professor de Medeiros’ talk is available here: