Can Europe Make It?

Alice-Mary Higgins on the DiEM25 Manifesto at the DiEM25 launch in Ireland

"We need to bridge that new and innovative kind of democratic accountability from the local to the national, to the European and international level. It needs to be remade ground-up and DiEM is an exciting part of that…" (Video, 24 mins)

Alice-Mary Higgins
24 August 2017

“It is good to see people coming to these discussions and being here at a time when trust in institutions is at an all-time low – trust in national institutions and European institutions. We know it not just because we hear it in the conversations we have but because of Europe’s own measurements in the Eurobarometer. For about five or six years now it has been sending warning bells about extraordinary numbers who are falling away from their belief in democracy or the potential even for democracy in Europe.

We have moved past the point of democratic deficit which was talked about for so many years, into a democratic disconnect where people don’t even see where the path might be and that is a very dangerous moment.

Of course that has all been deepened by the crash… and European institutions instead of engaging in dialogue have given us a diagnosis of a one-size-fits all deeply ideological neoliberal prescription for privatisation, for liberalisation and for austerity – polices which have never been shown to work anywhere in the world, and which we knew going into it has never worked anywhere in the world.”

“Our European institutions and structures are still not getting the message, if we want to save Europe, and I am passionate about having a European future, we need to have it agreed that we need to rebuild credibility and confidence at the very ground level amongst citizens in Europe. We don’t need more deals or another document at the highest level, but something that builds from the base, not another top-down constitution for example, but the kind of ground-up proposals that DiEM is trying to work for. For me we need to bridge that new and innovative kind of democratic accountability from the local to the national, to European and to international level – recognising that we are constantly remaking and expanding a relatively new democracy in the world spectrum and after the millennia of various authoritarian structures. It needs to be remade and DiEM is an exciting part of that…"

- The question of the need for public investment. Not just a question of resources but also of structures – now states are forced to invent Special Purpose Vehicles that bring a narrative of profit and privatisation to the fore, rather than borrow money to create investment on infrastructure because the dividend is that longterm one of a happier, more productive society. So this about not just giving the money, but allowing the state to invest in this way – allowing states to borrow and invest and to deliver public services. This builds democratic credibility – for it is about the people who access social services also being able to have an opinion about those services, and an outlet to express it and accountability for those services.

- The EU Parliament needs to be able to initiate legislation – and not simply adjudicate.

- The Financial Transaction Tax is nearly there and could happen and should happen…

- There was a very rare positive moment when the European Court of Justice recently ruled against the Commission. It ruled that their wilful refusal to take seriously and act on the European Citizens’ Initiatives (ECI), specifically the CETA CI’s signed by over 3 million citizens across Europe, is unacceptable and in breach of their duty. So we now have a situation where the European Commission has been told that they need to take ECI’s seriously and we need to flood the Commission with ECI’s and to make sure that I they don’t take action on them they know they will face further court cases…

“Every time the European Commission negotiates a new treaty they have to get a new mandate from the European Council, and I think we need to make sure that the next mandate that is given which will be the mandate to negotiate the trade deal between Europe and the UK is a different kind of mandate.

There was extraordinary work done in the 1990’s on an alternative trade mandate for Europe at a time when some of us were fighting against the trade agreements that Europe was trying to impose on African nations, including what a trade deal should look like and what kind of transparency it should have. We need to be sending a message to Europe about what the trade mandate needs to be going into those discussions and that those trade deals do not include corporate courts…ECJ ruled that trade deals need to be ratified by all EU parliaments.”


“Another area which is crucial is peace – the greatest dividend Europe has. But despite this being in the core DNA of Europe, there has been a reckless disregard for peacebuilding in recent years: in the policies imposed on Greece and the social disintegration that has been cultivated, in the language of division and scapegoating which has been used. We know from centuries that this is the stuff that dissolves and disintegrates peace. And even at the same time as we are not minding the peace, we have a new securitisation narrative and a new militarisation around our borders. We have seen companies like Frontex emerge and the new outrageous outsourcing of detention centres to places like Libya. And there will be a push for a common European military force during the same time that we are developing our constitution and we need to be ready to fight it along the way.”

“The need for solidarity has never been higher. I was lucky enough to be part of the European Women’s Lobby for a number of years. There, we saw the importance of citizen solidarity, of social movement solidarity, of solidarity between women’s movements and other social movements, for example, with civil society in places like Hungary where they are being shut down, where civil society is at the point of detentions, laptops being seized and we are seeing a very hostile active war against civil society engagement… I really welcome that DiEM identifies itself as a feminist movement, strengthening its economic and social policies.”


“How we do it? – participation and the way we do it does matter. If we really work on making it meaningful participation, the transformation we achieve is going to be more robust. It is going to stand up and it is going to work for everybody. And we need to say when somebody comes from a different experience from us, that that is a useful thing that allows us to see more of the bigger picture. Because oppression is complicated, and patriarchy and capitalism and racial hierarchy – they are all entwined and when we see insights from outside that deeply embedded system from others, we need to welcome it as an opportunity.”

“Multispeed Europe diverts us into a conversation about speed when we need to have a conversation about direction.”

“There is an absolute compatibility between nationalism and internationalism and I think the DiEM movement is going to be part of that…”

Video from the DiEM25 Ireland launch in Dublin, 27 May 2017.

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