15.02.2016

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DiEM25: A Movement against Backroom Deals and Economic Depression in the EU

Varoufakis is co-founder of DiEM25 - Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. The movement wants to provide a platform for democratizing the EU. The movement has three core demands: transparency of the EU institutions, re-deployment of these institutions to serve the people and forming a European constitution through a general assembly. For Varoufakis a first cost-free step would be to live stream the meetings of the Euro group, Ecofin group and European council. The minutes of the ECB should also be published. Furthermore the EU institutions must be re-deployed to make them work again. "So the ECB instead of buying bonds which is depressing the pension funds it could be buying European Investment Bank bonds to finance a Green New Deal for Europe." But there were no democratic institutions to engage in this kind of policy as the EU parliament is only a pretended parliament without legislative powers. Also missing is a constitution. Varoufakis: "Without a constitution we can't have a single market that functions and which creates economic outcomes which are consistent with shared prosperity and shared democracy."

Gäste: 

Yanis Varoufakis: Former Finance Minister of Greece and Co-Founder of "Democracy in Europe Movement 2025" (DiEM25)

Transkript: 

David Goessmann: DiEM25 has three core demands. One is transparency of EU institutions; second is redeployment of the EU institutions, so that they could cater the needs of the people; and thirdly it is a new constitution through the general assembly. What is so important about these three demands?

Yanis Varoufakis: Firstly ... You always need to walk before you run. You need to take one step before you get anywhere. So what’s the first step that we can take at zero cost? Tomorrow morning? It's transparency. How about live-streaming all the important meetings? Of the Euro Group, of the ECOFIN, of the European Council meetings. So that you and I can see and hear, what our representatives are saying on our behalf. That we can do, as said, at zero cost tomorrow. You don't have to change the treaties, you don't need to have a discussion about financing ... And I would very much like to hear Mr. Tusk, Mr. Dijsselbloem, the head of the European Central Bank, explain to me why they don't want this. Hm? It would be very nice to have their views as to 'why' European citizens, who are sending them there, don't have the right to know. At the moment they never know, no minister ---. Remember I was being accused of taping the Eurogroup meetings? It was my duty to tape them. And it is our duty as Europeans to our institutions towards more transparency. So, without transparency you have no democracy. Because if the citizens don't know what their government is doing on their behalf, they cannot pass critical judgment on it. That's the first point. The second point is: We have a terrible economic crisis. Which is affecting all of us. In different ways. So, in Germany, you have pension funds being crushed by negative interest rates. So savers are up in arms, rightly. Rightly so. Because the ECB is buying a lot of Bunds – and there is a long story as to why this is happening, but it's one of the outcomes of the crisis. In Greece we have a great depression. We're crashed, socioeconomically. In Spain, in Portugal, in Ireland you have deflation. So these are the different, if you want, manifestations of the same crisis. We're not dealing with it. We're not dealing with it. There's never been – I mean, I've been Minister for six months, it wasn't very long, but I can assure you, there wasn't a single discussion about how to deal with this. So this is the second, of our, if you want, more medium-term goal. To redeploy existing institutions. And it can be done, technically. It's not difficult. The problem is: We don't have a discussion, we don't have a forum in which-- the European Parliament is not the Parliament. What Parliament do you know in the world over the history of liberal democracies that cannot legislate? The European Parliament cannot legislate.

David Goessmann: What about the ECB? It had a really destructive role in Greece. How should we democratize the European Central Bank?

David Goessmann: You cannot really democratize a Central Bank. A Central Bank must be quite technical. But what you can do is: You can make it more transparent. The Federal Reserve in the United States has to do two things; the ECB doesn't have to do. The first one is: Go to congress every six months and report on its effect on unemployment. The ECB never really does that. And there's no congress to go to. The European Parliament is, as said, not a real parliament. It's a pretended parliament. And the second thing it needs to do: It needs to publish its minutes. So when these people get around to discuss what they will do about monetary policy in America, they have to actually take minutes and after few weeks they have to publish them. So the public knows, who said what and who proposed which change in interest rates and why. Wouldn't that be nice to-- this is not a radical left proposal. This is the Federal Reserve. This is what the Bank of England does. Europe-- We are not doing it and nobody knows, that we are not doing it. This is a terrible thing. So we-- There are very clear ways, in which we can redeploy. So the ECB instead of buying Bunds, which is depressing the pension funds, it could be buying European Investment Bank bonds to finance a Green New Deal for Europe. Why are we not doing it? Why is there no discussion on this? Because we don't have democratic processes where we can call into account those who do not have this discussion.

David Goessmann: And what about the constitution?

David Goessmann: Well. Do we have a constitution in Europe? No. We have a single market. We have a single currency. But we don't have a constitution. Now – people died in America, in France, in Germany, in Greece – Syntagma Square, where all the demonstrations happen in Greece – Syntagma means constitution. Constitution Square. Why? Because people died there, demonstrating for the lack of a constitution. We don’t have a constitution; we don't have an established pattern of rules. We have all these treaties, that are self-cancelling, that are impossible to read. Take the treaties, under which the EU operates and read them. They are unreadable. From a literature point of view it's just impossible. It's like reading the telephone book. Take the American constitution and read it. It's beautiful. This is why the Americans feel an identity, because there is a document, which they can be proud of. I may disagree with the American constitution. But let's have one we disagree on, but nevertheless one that we have collectively decided upon. It was an attempt to write supposedly a constitution for the European Union by Giscard d'Estaing and begun with the rights of capital. No. Read the preamble to the American Constitution about the rights of men and women. So, without a constitution we can't have a single market that functions and which creates economic outcomes which are consistent with shared prosperity and shared democracy.