Showing posts from 2016

Slovenia Celebrates End of Crisis with New Holiday

At risk of  non-compliance  with   Stability and Growth Pact, running a  budget deficit  during an expansion cycle, unable to fix public healthcare, unable to do a pension reform, unable to address the public sector’s trade union requirements, but  growing at 2.2%  … the  Government of Slovenia is celebrating the end of the great depression  that lasted from 2009-2015 by introducing a new holiday – January 2nd. January 2nd is not actually new. Most regimes in the former Eastern Block introduced two work-free days for New Year so as to replace Christmas which was banned. Similarly they introduced two work free days for May 1st – for a good measure of social justice after cancelling Easter. May 2nd still is a holiday in Slovenia but January 2nd was cancelled at the peak of the crisis in 2012. It is now being re-introduced so that the working people of Slovenia “could have a proper rests after the exhausting New Year’s celebrations”. Twitosphere suggested that the name of the new holiday

Congratulations, Mr. Trump ?

  Trump won. Surprising for some, shocking for others, even apocalyptic. Nevertheless, European leaders send congratulation letters. They quite interesting at   what they say . And even more interesting at   what they don’t say . French President  Hollande  congratulated Trump, because that is a decent thing to do and “ natural between two democratic heads of state ” and pointed to the common foundations of the two countries “ democracy, freedom and respect for the individual. “ German Chancellor  Merkel  was more specific: “Germany and America are bound together by values: democracy, freedom, respect of law and respect of people regardless of their origin, the color of their skin, their religion, gender, sexual orientation or their political beliefs. On the basis of these values I am offering to work closely with the future President of the United States, Donald Trump”. The European institutions did – as usual – a compromise between the French and the German solution. President of the

The EU Still is Attractive!

  There are few good news coming from Brussels these days. The pundits are still wondering if Brexit will happen, hoping it would not and wondering at the same time how hard it will be. CETA negotiations are an embarrassment for the EU. They showed that not only one single country but one region in a small member state can block a trade agreement. To make matters worse, common market and trade policy used to be a least contested and best functioning EU policy area. Agreement on migration policy is non-existent. The Euro crisis persists. Turkey is cooling in its EU membership ambitions. In all this doom and gloom it was so refreshing to see that the  Union remains attractive at least to some . Recently I took part in an event in Belgrade, Serbia, that gathered the government officials and civil society deliberating how to speed up the accession negotiations and how to better prepare Serbia for it. Most striking was the enthusiasm of young people – students who were showing short viral Y

A European future of Europe?

The key problem of Europe is ontological. We are not sure what the European Union actually is. Is it a free trade area, a giant NGO based in Brussels and doing good for Europe and the World, or perhaps a country in the making? The compromise answer, popular in Brussels, is that  Europe is a project . The project is something that is not static, which is being developed, and has not yet reached its final form. Brussels vs. Bratislava As long as Europe is a project, it is possible to talk about the future of Europe. As long as Europe is a project, it can be illustrated as a bicycle – standing upright until it moves forward. Euro crisis, migrant crisis and Brexit have slowed down this bicycle or even reversed its direction. One cannot drive a bicycle backwards. This is in fact the  problem to be addressed by the leaders of the EU Member States this week in Bratislava . How to get the bicycle going again. They will, as many times before, debate the future of Europe, more precisely the futu