Greece’s far-left former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis came to Berlin on Feb. 9 to launch a pan-European grassroots political movement, saying its goal was to “democratize” the 28-member bloc.
Varoufakis, the maverick anti-austerity champion who battled with EU paymaster Germany over Athens’ debt crisis, charged the union was failing on economic policy and the refugee crisis while member states were retreating into nationalism.
“The European Union is disintegrating, and it is doing so quite fast,” Varoufakis told reporters ahead of the official evening launch of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25).
The former star of Greece’s first radical left government said the EU’s “bureaucratic, technocratic decision-making process” amounted to “authoritarianism”, not democracy.
While Varoufakis has long railed against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s economic policy, he praised her open-door policy on people fleeing war and misery that brought 1.1 million asylum seekers to the country last year.
He pointed to “the spectacular failure of the European Union… to deal with the refugee crisis in a sensible, rational, humanist way, with the possible exception of Angela Merkel who has been quite good on this”.
Across Europe, Varoufakis said, he now saw a spreading “not-in-my-backyard mentality” on issues ranging from refugees to open borders.
The solution to the historic refugee influx was not “a return to the nation states, to build walls again” or to have “concentration camps” for refugees arriving in Greece and Italy, he said.