‘EU could work & should work differently’

Five-Star Movement activist and comedian Beppe Grillo © Massimo Barbanera
The EU has a future if it’s reformed, and its priorities are changed completely so the needs of all citizens are respected, not just the big financial powers. A referendum on the eurozone could be a first step, said Five Star Movement MEP Ignazio Corrao.

The Brexit referendum has inspired Euroskeptics across the bloc. Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement is now calling for the country to withdraw from the eurozone. It claims it's the only way for the economy to get back on track.

Founded in 2009 by former comedian Beppe Grillo, the party is now the second largest in Italy enjoying support from both the left and right of the political spectrum.

The Five Star Movement - anti-establishment and Euroskeptic – is also committed to fighting corruption.

RT asked MEP Ignazio Corrao why his party is confident a national currency would be better for Italy than the euro.

Since founded seven years ago, the Five Star Movement has “strongly believed in direct democracy,” he said. However, no one asked the Italian people whether they wanted to join the eurozone, he said.   

“Politicians and economists of that time were telling Italian people that with the euro everybody [would] be richer; everybody [would] work less to gain more,” Corrao, adding that what happened in reality was completely the opposite.

That’s why the Five Star Movement is not raising the national currency question; it’s “impossible to govern a country without it”, according to the MEP. 

“The governance of the euro now is something private, something that only fosters private banks, private finance, and it is far away from the needs of normal citizens that we want to defend, that we want to protect,” Corrao said.

Asking Italians’ opinion on whether to keep the euro would be a first step, he noted.

“We’re not saying that we have to go out [of the eurozone]. We want to have a referendum on that and ask people if they want to stay or not. It wasn’t done when we joined,” the European lawmaker said.

Politicians made a “big mistake” at a time when the eurozone was established since they “didn’t have a vision some years ago.”

“It was impossible to think that you could rule different countries without a political union, without a juridical union, with all different rules, with all different governments and having a common currency,” Corrao said.

This simply did not work for the EU. While some states “took advantage” of having the euro, the situation in countries like Italy is different, he said.  

“So this is the basic reason why we want to discuss the need of Italy staying in the eurozone”.

Asked whether the 5 Star Movement will go further if they succeed with their push to leave the eurozone, the MEP said that they will believe that the “EU could work and should work in another way.”

“If you ask European citizens from France, Italy, Spain, they will all tell you that this union doesn’t work. This is what we feel… here in the European Parliament,” Corrao said.

“We think that we still have some chances to change priorities in this union. We probably have to be [pushing harder for] reforms, but serious reforms that change completely the priorities. We don’t want to have a union that only thinks about the big financial power, the big banking power, and the big multinational corporation powers. We want to have a union that thinks about a small or medium enterprise; thinks about the needs of European citizens, thinks about the real economy, and the dignity of European citizens,” the MEP said.

“This is something that was completely forgotten by European institutions, who still keep making decisions in the small rooms with few people, thinking that they can rule 500 million [people]. This is something that we cannot accept. We have to think about citizens first. This is the way we think we should negotiate the change of priority in this union. We want to change the treaties,” the Five Star Movement member concluded.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.