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23rd Feb 2018

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.

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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.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

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