On the state of Europe (its Economy, Treaties, Migration, Italy&Greece) – interviewed by FOTOSINTHESI

15/01/2024 by

DiEM25 was born in 2016 to counter the oligarchies that control and influence the lives of European citizens. How has the situation changed in recent years?

Our mission has failed. Instead of being democratised, power within the EU has become even more concentrated and opaque. As we had predicted, because it was not democratised, the EU is disintegrating in substance though not in form. So here is the paradox: While the oligarchies have succeeded in fending off any attempt to democratise power, they themselves lost much of their capacity to steer Europe. Whereas we once used to have a North-South divide, now we have also a deep East-West divide. To see this clearly, ask yourself the following question: Suppose, tomorrow, there is a grand negotiation to end the war in Ukraine called by the USA, Russia, China and India – to which the EU is invited to join. Who would represent the EU? Neither von der Leyen nor Borrel have the authority. But, at the same time, Scholtz and Macron are mistrusted by Eastern European and Scandinavian governments. In short, the failure to democratise Europe has contributed not only to the triumph of Europe’s oligarchy but also to their loss of control. A true tragedy for Europe.

These days there is discussion about the revision of the EU budget rules. What do you think should be the changes to be introduced?

The first change is that we should scrap rules – all of them. Rules are no substitute for missing institutions. Take the United States and subtract from it the federal government and all its institutions (e.g., federal social security, the FDIC etc.). Would any set of rules be able to compensate for the loss of the federal institutions? No! Similarly in the EU. What we need is not new rules but new institutions that give rise to a common debt management agency, a common investment vehicle and a common social security. If we don’t want these, or can’t agree on how to run them democratically, the only logical alternative is to go back to our separate currencies and remain a loose free trade area.

The report by Stiglitz and Guzman on world riches and hypotheses of minimum taxation to make Europe collect money has just been released. Do you believe that this is a suitable tool for making large international companies pay taxes?

No, I don’t. It would be sensible to have the same corporate and value added tax rates. But, as long as debt repayments and cross-border expenses are tax deductible, multinational companies can always manipulate their expenses (through various shell companies) to reduce their taxable income. For this reason, I have proposed to the United Nations Development Program a different approach: a universal tax of revenues (as opposed to profits) for large corporations.

Italy and Greece often have equally questionable behavior in terms of compliance with international regulations both with regard to rescues at sea and the reception of migrants. What is your opinion on these migration policies?

I am sorry but I refuse to be complicit in crimes against humanity by endorsing the use of Orwellian language to hide our governments’ crimes against humanity. What you refer to as ‘questionable behaviour’ is, in my mind, explicitly criminal behaviour. Our coastguards are behaving criminally, violating international law and pushing vulnerable people into stormy seas in the full knowledge that many of them will drown. The cynical excuse for this is that, otherwise, we are swarmed with migrants that Europe cannot house. This is wrong. At times, Italy and Greece have been overwhelmed by too many newcomers. But that’s only because other European countries have shut their borders. Why? Because of racism and its exploitation by populists. Overall, Europe needs migrants. Labour forces are shrinking everywhere. Instead of drowning these people in the Mediterranean, we should welcome them, find a rational way of relocating them around Europe and, thus, benefitting from their hunger to learn, work and contribute to our societies.

You have launched a petition calling for the resignation of Ursula von der Leyen whose mandate expires with the next elections. There is talk of Mario Draghi as a possible successor supported by Emmanuel Macron. How would you see this solution?

In one sense, no one can be worse than von der Leyen – a failed German defence minister who botched the order to vaccines during the pandemic and dared dash to Israel after the 7th of October to cheerlead Netanyahu’s murderous bombing and invasion of Gaza. Mario Draghi is certainly a more competent person but also one who has never, ever bothered to seek a democratic mandate. A technocrat one time employee of Goldman Sachs, a bank known for its misanthropy, who later was given the task of crushing the democratically elected government in which I served by illegally closing down our banks, his appointment would confirm that Brussels is meant to remain a democracy-free-zone.

What is your opinion on the treaty of 8 October 2021 on the overcoming of bilateral treaties which become the first inclusive fermier for the minum tax or web tax applied from 1 January 2024 by 138 countries?

It is a little like giving aspirin to a dead corpse: it does no harm but it offers no cure either.

The revision of the European treaties has been discussed for some time. One of the objectives is to overcome the unanimity necessary for the approval of resolutions on a series of issues considered sensitive by member states such as foreign policy and common security issues. Do you agree with this reform?

If we had a democratically elected federal government, and a Parliament capable of dismissing it (something the European Parliament cannot do with the EU Council), yes, removing national veto power could make sense. But we don’t. So, as things stand, removing the national veto is the last straw for what is left of our democracies. A wafer-thin majority in several large countries could impose upon many EU countries policies that the vast majority disdains in those countries.

And what else should be reformed to give greater effectiveness to the commission’s action?

Nothing. The Commission must go. The EU Council must go. Nothing can legitimise EU policies and actions other than a democratically elected federal government. Everything else is a form of tyranny. Almost seventy years after the Treaty of Rome, it is time to realise that either we federate or we turn the EU into a loose trade area with some areas of additional cooperation.

In Italy the electoral law for the European elections provides for a threshold of 4%, don’t you think it would be unrealistic to present yourself as a list with little chance of overcoming the threshold?

When people tell me that something that must happen is unrealistic, I take heart by looking at a flying airplane or recalling the banning of slavery – things that, once upon a time, were considered beyond the limits of realism.

For the FOTOSINTESI site, where this interview was published in Italian, click here.

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