Waiting for Varoufakis: Highlights from Barcelona

Hundreds of people lined up in Barcelona to listen to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Varoufakis was invited by Barcelona’s mayor as a guest speaker in an event called “Discussing European Democracy” in Barcelona’s Born Cultural Center.

The countless tweets and photographs posted show that the outspoken university teacher has acquired superstar status as a highly sought-after speaker and pop icon.


Here are highlights of his talk:

  • The common currency was constructed like the gold standard
  • In the US, each crisis brought the Americans closer together and in the euro-zone the opposite is happening.
  • The euro-zone was wrongly constructed.
  • The state’s role was to keep the different classes in equilibrium/
  • The EU has its roots in a cartel of coal and steel, and later came other cartels.
  • The Eurogroup is a democracy free zone.
  • The European Parliament is a very interesting building but not a real parliament.
  • In Greece, we suffered the greatest depression since the 1930s.
  • Only 9% of the unemployed get unemployment benefits.
  • In the 60s they used tanks, now the banks.
  • We were threatened with the closure of the banks and people still voted NO.
  • Tragically, our government decided to surrender.
  • We did a lot of damage to other left wing European parties.
  • In Brussels, the truth comes out when microphones are closed.
  • In Spain, you rescued the banks and paid with austerity.
  • The flow of money from north to south  comes in the form of loans.
  • In Spain, it came through developers building houses and people felt rich.
  • In Greece, the money went into the state sector. The government built high highways, Olympic stadiums and  a lot was wasted because of  corruption.
  • When the music stopped, Spanish developers went bankrupt, then the banks and then the state.
  • In Greece, the state suffered but the result was the same: austerity.
  • The rich people in Europe have more money than ever.
  • Interest rates are below zero. In bonds and shares there’s risk and the mattress is not large enough.
  • German pension funds don’t have where to invest the money because of negative yields.
  • The solution would be to invest in productive things, including green causes.
  • The problem is that if money is invested, nobody will be able to buy the goods – a vicious cycle.
  • To break the cycle and kickstart, you need to state guarantee investment.
  • China saved Europe in 2008. The Chinese government cranked up the machine in 2008. China’s investment ratio has been 50% – unprecedented.
  • Germany managed to survive thanks to China.
  • The Chinese knew that they were buying time – 5 years to create demand.
  • But we haven’t done anything.
  • Now China is deflating while Europe is nowhere near recovering.
  • The current situation is a gross failure of the euro-zone.
  • The Eurogroup is not distinguished by intellect. They just repeat the rules and don’t accept changing the rules.
  • Schäuble is a very enlightened man but also repeating the rules mantra without challenging the rules.
  • Eurogroup: The whole is far less than the sum of the parts.
  • We should be ashamed of the level of poverty and also on treating refugees.
  • Poverty is a political issue, and aids the rise of the extreme right.
  • When a Spaniard buys a Volkswagen, the money goes from the buyer to the central bank in Madrid and this in turn goes  to the Bundesbank: send money directly  to VW.
  • So, what actually happens is that the Spanish central bank owes money to the German central bank via the Target2 system.
  • In practice, Spain owes money to Germany, and interest is paid – tax from Spain to Germany.
  • The Bundesbank passes these profits to the German treasury.
  • Idea: the money goes to fight poverty and does not require a treaty change.

We want to democratize Brussels.

  • The commission and the Eurogroup should be accountable to the parliament.
  • I am going all around Europe to spread the word.
  • Greece is important to me, but everything that happened to Greece can happen everywhere.
  • People came to talk to us not because of pure solidarity but because of fear that it will happen to them.
  • The party mentality is no longer useful to make a change.
  • The movement should aim to be a European network open to members from different parties.
  • Even the conservatives are not happy with themselves.



  • Full transparency
  • Publication of meeting minutes
  • TTIP should become transparent

Short term:

  • Implementing the four policies that do not require treaty changes

Medium term:

  • Creating an assembly outside Brussels where elected officials can debate

Long term:

  • A new constitution.

If we agree and we shape and it reflects public opinion across Europe, this will be spontaneous across parties across Europe.