Last Saturday, DiEM25 landed in Brussels for its “Real State of the Union” event at the BOZAR theatre. Our movement packed the house with over 1,500 people in attendance, including hundreds of DiEM25 activists from across the continent.
Thank you all!
See below for:
- The recording of the event (all 3 hours and 6 minutes of it)
- Our report with photos
- Relevant media coverage around the event
The day started with a full house for our five-hour workshop at Bozar in Brussels.
100s of DiEMers sat together to brainstorm and agree a list of actions on how we, as grassroots DiEM25 activists, can take our work to the next level and produce the ground-up change that Europe needs.
After an intro by Yanis Varoufakis, our new CC member Orla De Díez, and Joren De Wachter, facilitated.
We captured many valuable insights that we will be feeding back into our work!
Then it was time for the main event. Kicking off at 7pm, the main hall of the Bozar theatre was (almost!) packed-out.
A speech from Yanis Varoufakis started the evening. He described the “authoritarian incompetence” of those in power in Brussels. On Europe’s refugee crisis, he said: “Put these three words together to get an unfunny joke: ‘European’, ‘migration’ and ‘policy’”.
Dutch Artist Jonas Staal, whose sets are a regular feature at DiEM25 events, discussed the intersection between activism and art.
Then it was time for the first section of the evening, which attempted to answer the question “What is the state of play across Europe today?”. In other words, WHY is there a need for something like DiEM25 at all?
We heard from Philippe Legrain, Economist and former adviser to Commission President Barroso, on the EU’s mismanagement, as seen through the Economic and so-called Migration crises. He castigated EU policy makers as “self-serving, incompetent and corrupt”.
Katarzyna Szymielewicz, President of Panoptykon Foundation, talked about the gap between citizens and the EU in terms of legitimacy, accountability, and democratic control.
And Alice-Mary Higgins, independent member of the Irish Senate, discussed the implications of Brexit for Ireland and beyond, noting “Europe has gone from a democratic deficit to a democratic *disconnect*”
Meanwhile, as is standard as DiEM25 events, audience members were asking questions via the DiEM Voice art platform, which were displayed on a large screen behind the speakers. Why are we not a political party? wondered one of the submissions. Fair question!
And we moved to the second part of the event, attempting to answer the question: “What should Europeanists do in response to the real state of our Union?”
Yanis Varoufakis took to the stage again to outline our European New Deal, a set of proposals “to make the EU worth saving – while saving it”. And introduced Jeff Sachs, American economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Jeff Sachs discussed the future of Europe within and beyond its borders. “Is the EU worth saving?” he said. “Don’t even ask. The world desperately needs it. Desperately.”
He said he was pleased with DiEM25’s success so far, then took out his mobile phone and snapped a photo of the audience, saying “I want to show this to Bernie when I get home!”
Next up was Rafael Correa, former President of Ecuador and a big inspiration for DiEM25’s proposals. In a passionate speech, he highlighted Ecuadorian policies with a focus on how they relate to Europe, and took aim at neoliberalism pointing out: “Every decision favours financial capital, not human beings. We *must* change that balance.”
After a Q+A in which the audience’s messages via DiEM Voice were point to the panel, it was time for the third and final part of the event: What does DiEM25 propose to do over the next two years, leading to the European elections of 2019, and beyond?”. In other words, the HOW. (Because DiEM25 is not just about making proposals, but also seeing them implemented!)
OpenDemocracy’s Rosemary Bechler (a member of our coordinating collective) spoke about the politics unleashed by Brexit and how Europeans must stick together, regardless of EU membership, for achieving our vision of a progressive Europe. “The UK must play a key role in the radical transformation Europe needs,”she said.
Lorenzo Marsili, also a DiEM25 Coordinating Collective member, outlined the discussion within DiEM25 about building a transnational political party, and put forward our ambitious plans to re-invent democracy for the twenty-first century.
A member of the audience asked a very pertinent question on our DiEM Voice platform 🙂
Yanis Varoufakis had some closing words. “Our dream,” he said, “is that our project can be presented and put in place for 2019”
Lastly, Erik Edman, a DiEM25 Volunteer Coordinator and the brains behind the event, closed the event with a short speech, inviting all who were interested in learning more about our movement to join us at the next DiEM25 Belgium event in Brussels on September 27.
Media coverage around the event
- Varoufakis group may seek MEP posts in 2019 (EU Observer, September 11, 2017)
- Yanis Varoufakis: EU at risk of ‘disintegration’ (Politico Europe, September 11, 2017)
- DiEM25: the courage to imagine and to the transform the EU (Pressenza, September 11, 2017)
- Interview with Rafael Correa (Huffington Post – Spanish, September 11, 2017)
- Varoufakis mischt die Sozis auf (TAZ, September 11, 2017)
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