Movie stars issue manifesto backing European Union

By Craig Simpson, Press Association

Cinema stars have produced a manifesto backing the European Union ahead of continent-wide elections.

The manifesto claims the union is threatened from the outside, and from within Europe itself from people “looking for a way out”.

Film-makers issued a rallying cry praising the EU as an inspiration “for all of humanity” and claiming the bloc is under attack “on all fronts”.

Actor Ralph Fiennes and directors Stephen Frears and Sir Alan Parker are among about 500 signatories of the document, which claims the future could depend on the outcome of voting this week.

Stephen Frears (David Parry/PA)

The document has been signed by stars gathered at the Cannes Film Festival, who called on voters to unite behind the EU as extremism and regression are “spreading like a plague”.

The manifesto says: “Let us remember that Europe united for peace. What started as a union of six countries has now grown to include 28 countries in a unique alliance that is inspiring for all of humanity.

“This union was built on the principles of open borders, free circulation, fraternity, solidarity, values that are today under attack on all fronts, including from within Europe itself.

Sir Alan Parker (Ian West/PA)

“A free and democratic Europe is a Europe of creativity, freedom of thought and expression. As we are facing extremism and backwards tendencies, once again spreading like a plague, it is our duty to stand up for these values.

“This incredibly fragile balance must be strengthened and improved, when facing those who want to destroy it by dividing, giving up and looking for a way out.

“To the question ‘how do we build a desirable, unifying, open Europe offering a space for freedom and peace?’, we must reply by standing firmly for what we believe in, in this battle of ideas.

“From May 23 to 26, for the European elections, we will therefore vote.

“It is our common future that is at stake, if not our future itself.”

The manifesto is mainly signed by French film-makers, with a large proportion of Belgian and German signatories, and 13 names from UK cinema.

Film-makers from Russian, Venezuela, Burundi and Chile have also signed.

The manifesto was initiated by groups including the French Film Directors’ Guild and the Federation of European Film Directors.