For all their concerns with global competitiveness, migration and terrorism, only one prospect truly terrifies the Powers of Europe: Democracy!
They speak in democracy’s name but only to deny, exorcise and suppress it in practice. They seek to co-opt, evade, corrupt, mystify, usurp and manipulate democracy in order to break its energy and arrest its possibilities. For rule by Europe’s peoples, government by the demos, is their nightmare.
The European Union could have been the proverbial Beacon on the Hill, showing the world how peace and solidarity may be snatched from the jaws of centuries-long conflict and bigotry. Alas, today, a common bureaucracy and a common currency divide European peoples that were beginning to unite despite our different languages and cultures.
Now, today, Europeans are feeling let down by EU institutions everywhere.From Helsinki to Lisbon, from Dublin to Crete, from Leipzig to Aberdeen. A stark choice is approaching fast. The choice between authentic democracy and insidious disintegration.
At the heart of our disintegrating EU there lies a guilty deceit: A highly political, top-down, opaque decision-making process is presented as ‘apolitical’, ‘technical’, ‘procedural’ and ‘neutral’. Its purpose is to prevent Europeans from exercising democratic control over their money, communities, working conditions and environment.
The price of this deceit is not merely the end of democracy but also the dream of shared prosperity:
- The Eurozone economies are being marched off the cliff of competitive austerity, resulting in permanent recession in the weaker countries and low investment in the core countries
- EU member-states outside the Eurozone are alienated, seeking inspiration and partners in suspect quarters
- Unprecedented inequality, declining hope and misanthropy flourish throughout Europe
The more they asphyxiate democracy, the less legitimate their political authority becomes, the stronger the forces of economic recession, and the greater their need for further authoritarianism. Thus democracy’s enemies gather renewed power while losing legitimacy and confining hope and prosperity to the very few (who may only enjoy it behind the gates and the fences needed to shield them from the rest of society).
This is the unseen process by which Europe’s crisis is turning our peoples inwards, against each other, amplifying pre-existing jingoism, xenophobia.The privatisation of anxiety, the fear of the ‘other’, the nationalisation of ambition, and the re-nationalisation of policy threaten a toxic disintegration of common interests from which Europe can only suffer.
Europe’s pitiful reaction to its banking and debt crises, to the refugee crisis, to the need for a coherent foreign, migration and anti-terrorism policy, are all examples of what happens when solidarity loses its meaning.
Two dreadful options dominate:
- Retreat into the cocoon of our nation-states
- Or surrender to the Brussels democracy-free zone
There must be another course. And there is!
It is the one official ‘Europe’ resists with every sinew of its authoritarian mind-set:
A surge of democracy!
Edmund Burke’s line applies to today’s Europe perfectly: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” Committed democrats must resolve to act across Europe. With a view to call forth just such a surge, we are gathering on 9th February in Berlin to found a movement,DiEM25.
We come from every part of Europe and are united by different cultures, languages, accents, political party affiliations, ideologies, skin colours, gender identities, faiths and conceptions of the good society.
We come together as committed Europeans determined to prevent a clueless EU establishment, which is deeply contemptuous of democracy, from rendering impossible an authentically democratic European union.
One simple, radical idea is the motivating force behind DiEM25:
The EU will either be democratised or it will disintegrate!
Our immediate priority is (A) full transparency in decision-making (e.g. live-streaming of European Council, Ecofin and Eurogroup meetings, full disclosure of trade negotiation documents, publication of ECB minutes etc.) and (B) the urgent redeployment of existing EU institutions in the pursuit of innovative policies that genuinely address the crises of debt, banking, inadequate investment, rising poverty and migration.
Our medium-term goal, once Europe’s various crises have been stabilised, is to convene a constitutional assembly where Europeans will deliberate on how to bring forth, by 2025, a full-fledged European democracy, featuring a sovereign Parliament that respects national self-determination and sharing power with national Parliaments, regional assemblies and municipal councils.
We call on our fellow Europeans to join us forthwith to create DiEM25 and to fight together to democratise the European Union, to end the reduction of all political relations into relations of power masquerading as merely technical decisions; to subject the EU’s bureaucracy to the will of sovereign European peoples; to dismantle the habitual domination of corporate power over the will of citizens; and to re-politicise the rules that govern our single market and common currency.
We are inspired by a Europe of Reason, Liberty, Tolerance and Imagination made possible by comprehensive Transparency, real Solidarity and authentic Democracy. We aspire to:
- A Democratic Europe in which all political authority stems from Europe’s sovereign peoples
- A Transparent Europe where all decision-making takes place under the citizens’ scrutiny
- A United Europe whose citizens have as much in common across countries as within them
- A Realistic Europe that sets itself the task of radical, yet achievable, democratic reforms
- A Decentralised Europe that uses central power to maximise democracy locally
- A Pluralist Europe of regions, ethnicities, faiths, nations, languages and cultures
- An Egalitarian Europe that celebrates difference and ends all forms of discrimination
- A Cultured Europe that harnesses its peoples’ cultural diversity
- A Social Europe that recognises freedom from exploitation as a prerequisite for true liberty
- A Productive Europe that directs investment into a shared, green prosperity
- A Sustainable Europe that lives within the planet’s means
- An Ecological Europe engaged in genuine world-wide green transition
- A Creative Europe that releases the innovative powers of its citizens’ imagination
- A Technological Europe pressing new technologies in the service of solidarity
- A Historically-minded Europe that seeks a bright future without hiding from its past
- An Internationalist Europe that treats non-Europeans as ends-in-themselves
- A Peaceful Europe de-escalating tensions in its neighbourhood and beyond
- An Open Europe that is alive to ideas, people and inspiration from all over the world, recognising fences and borders as signs of weakness and sources of insecurity
- A Liberated Europe where privilege, prejudice, deprivation and the threat of violence wither, allowing Europeans to be born into fewer stereotypical roles, to enjoy even chances to develop their potential, and to be free to choose more of their partners in life, work and society.