Monday

18th Feb 2019

Interview

Varoufakis group may seek MEP posts in 2019

  • Varoufakis (l) with Dijsselbloem during the former's time as Greek finance minister (Photo: Consillium)

Former Greek finance minister and founder of the Diem25 political movement has derided the EU parliament, but may seek to return MEPs in 2019.

The Diem25 pan-European political movement may seek to enter the European Parliament as part of a broader effort to overhaul what it calls the deep establishment.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister and one of Diem 25's founders, has said it will decide in October whether to contest the EU elections in 2019.

"The European Parliament election might be a focal point for us even though we believe that Europe does not have a parliament," he told EUobserver in an interview on Saturday (9 September) in Brussels.

Speaking ahead of Diem25 meeting on the launch of its vision for a new federal Europe, Varoufakis derided the EU assembly.

"It is the only parliament in human history that cannot initiate legislation," he said, adding that he had no intention of himself trying to become an MEP in 2019.

"We believe in reluctant politicians. If they [Diem25 candidates] choose to hold office, they do so as a chore, as something they don't want to do, but something that is a dirty job and somebody has to do it," he said.

Varoufakis said Diem25 was a pro-European but radical group that aimed to imperil the jobs of the EU establishment in Brussels and elsewhere.

"The only thing that those in power fear is a movement threatening their jobs and that is what we intend to do," he said.

Launched some 18 months ago in Berlin, Diem25 seeks, among other things, full transparency of decision-making at the EU level, the dismantling of corporate power in politics, and a more powerful EU parliament.

Some of the ideas behind the movement appear to be gaining traction among mainstream politicians.

Pan-EU MEPs

Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron spoke of creating a list of pan-EU parliamentary candidates following Britain's' exit from the European Union.

British MEPs will be leaving behind 73 seats at EU parliament, which Macron said could be an opportunity to create a pan-European party.

Diem25 had initially proposed the idea in 2016, but to cover all 751 EU parliament posts.

"I am very pleased to hear that Emmanuel Macron is adopting it, only marginally, but nevertheless it is better than nothing. We would like everything to be contested on the basis of a pan European ticket," Varoufakis told this website.

The French president in Athens also announced other big ideas on how to rebuild the European Union.

The pro-business, centrist French leader called for a more integrated eurozone, a common euro-area budget, and more financial solidarity with countries such as Greece, whose economy continues to suffer.

But Varoufakis, who rose to fame in his effort to resist EU-imposed austerity on Greece in 2015, described Macron's eurozone vision as "ill conceived".

"One small step in the right direction is actually a step in the wrong direction," he said.

Eurogroup toxicity

Varoufakis said Macron's vision of an EU "federation-lite" would not work due to "the ineptitude" of the current European "establishment".

He said the way the EU powers imposed austerity on Greece had helped populists and nationalists to gain influence.

Those measures were decided behind closed doors and without accountability by a club of eurozone states' finance ministers called the Eurogroup.

Earlier this month, EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici described the Eurogroup as a "democratic scandal".

The group is presided over by Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, but dominated in practice by his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

Varoufakis, who had also clashed with the Eurogroup in early 2015, said Moscovici's remarks raised more questions than answers.

"What right does he [Moscovici] have to make those statements while remaining in the Commission imposing that result from the democratic scandal?" said Varoufakis.

Varoufakis back in push for ECB transparency

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and German left-wing MEP Fabio De Masi want to know whether the European Central Bank overstepped its powers when putting capital controls on Greek banks in 2015.

Varoufakis resigns ahead of new EU talks

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis announced the decision to step down on his blog, saying creditors had indicated his presence would make talks harder.

British influence declines in EU parliament

British MEPs, with one or two exceptions, are slipping in influence, whereas the Germans and the Italians have gained, according to a Brussels-based NGO.

EU parliament wary of pan-European lists

MEPs working on the future composition of the post-Brexit European Parliament say there is no legal basis to create a system of pan-EU euro-deputies.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  2. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  3. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying
  4. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  5. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  6. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  7. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  8. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  2. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  3. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  4. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  5. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  6. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  7. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  8. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us