“Start cooking – recipe to follow.”
On Tuesday 9 February former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis launched the ‘Democracy in Europe Movement 2025’, or DiEM25, at the Volksbühne Theatre in Berlin, a broad coalition of democrats across Europe with the aim of fighting corporate interest, nationalism and extremism in the EU and instilling true democracy in Europe.
The launch event lasted almost four hours and featured over 20 speakers, ranging from MPs and musicians to philosophers and economists. Varoufakis hosted the event, starting with a passionate speech about the need to reform Europe, before introducing a variety of speakers starting with Katja Kipping, a member of the German Parliament and chairperson of the Left Party, and ending with questions for all speakers from the audience. Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton, was also in attendance and criticised David Cameron’s desire for a “leaner, meaner, narrower” EU with “less free movement, more free trade”, arguing it was not being done in the public’s name.
There was an array of other big names who spoke in support of DiEM, including French politician Cecile Duflot, Irish MEP and former Green councillor Nessa Childers, and the Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau. Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, spoke via video link from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, understandably giving his support for the need for transparency. Brian Eno was the last of the speakers and claimed that DiEM’s motto should be “Start cooking, recipe to follow”, in reference to the movement attempting a task that has never been done before.
The DiEM manifesto states that Europeans at this moment in time only have two options, to “retreat into the cocoon of our nation states” or to “surrender to the Brussels democracy free zone”. DiEM proposes a third path which would turn the EU into a fully-fledged democracy focused on transparency, with a sovereign parliament that respects national self-determination. In other words, Varoufakis suggests opening the locked doors of the EU by live streaming European Council, Ecofin and Eurogroup meetings, with full disclosure of trade negotiation documents and publication of the minutes of European Central Bank meetings. He also urges the redeployment of existing EU institutions that pursue innovative policies addressing Europe’s most pressing problems and wants to convene a constitutional assembly which will bring about this democratic EU-topia by 2025.
Listening to Varoufakis speak, it’s clear he still holds a certain degree of contempt for the EU’s current approach and DiEM is certainly an assault on the “Brussels and Frankfurt bureaucracy”. Varoufakis should be commended for his optimistic and progressive suggestions for reform in the EU, though at this point DiEM is not offering any specific policy proposals beyond live streaming and meeting minutes.
When asked by The Guardian what made him think that DiEM25 would succeed where movements like Attac had not, Varoufakis said, “Absolutely nothing, but it’s the only way I can get up in the morning and feel energised” – testament perhaps to the indication DiEM might be a movement founded on hope rather than expectation.
• Yanis Varoufakis – Academic economist and ex-Greek finance minister.
• Katja Kipping – Member of German Parliament, chairperson of the Left Party.
• Cecile Duflot – Member of French National Assembly, ex-minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, ex-National Secretary of Europe Ecology.
• Caroline Lucas – Green Party MP for the UK, ex-leader of The Green Party.
• Ada Colau – Mayor of Barcelona, Spanish political and social activist.
• Nessa Childers – Irish politician, MEP since 2009, former Green councillor.
• Julian Assange – Australian hacker, publisher, journalist and editor-in-chief at WikiLeaks.
• Brian Eno – Musician and producer.
• James K Galbraith – Economist and professor.
• Slavoj Žižek – Philosopher and cultural critic.
Words: Ben Platt