The Slovenia Times

Prosperity despite politics?


Then there is the construction of the second railway track between Koper and Divača. The project will cost around EUR 1bn, considerably more than the amount estimated by independent studies. There is no logic to the financial construction that entails loans from the European Investment Bank and possibly Hungary, which incurs interest of more than five percent on its loans on financial markets. It would definitely be cheaper to convince Slovenians to invest in the railway track, but the leading parties have to add their own share, lining pockets in the process would be nothing new for an infrastructure project in Slovenia.

And while the politicians are fighting their small battles, the situation in European and global politics has again begun to deteriorate. Donald Trump's attendance at the G7 meeting in Sicily was touted as a victory by some: "That's how low the bar has been set - points for attendance," suggested Politico. What followed was more worrisome, Trump openly opposing established views on climate change and exiting the Paris climate agreement. Who knows, he may next challenge the European order post Second World War.

Trump wouldn't be alone. Ever since the devastation caused by the financial and debt crisis, which brought high unemployment and even more uncertainty with regard to livelihood, there has been a huge rise in the number of Europeans who have lost their belief in the current political system and order. The political class has failed to appease them. In typical European fashion, politicians do not walk the talk. Unity was and is a problem for the EU, the leaders of the 29 nations have time and time again demonstrated the lack of ability or the willingness, to find political solutions and implement common policies.

Fear and dissatisfaction have given rise to xenophobic nationalism across Europe and the world. The refugee crisis shook Europe to its core, its mismanagement highlighted additional cracks in the European idea, especially in the hard-hit, frontline countries. The rise of hatred - towards Brussels and the refugees - was a natural response. Because EU leaders live far away, immigrants fast became the number one "threat" to Europeans. Trump soon found out that he could stoke the same fears and hatred in America and if it wasn't for the fear, Hillary Clinton may well be the president of the United States and David Cameron would probably still be the prime minister of the United Kingdom - no Trump and no Brexit.

Although it wasn't meant to be, there is a bright spot in the chaos. The fact that Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election from Marine Le Pen, might well have saved the EU. Macron didn't just beat the face of xenophobic nationalism, he won with a bold stand for the EU and the European idea. Will it be enough? It is hard to tell, but changes are definitely coming. Not only in the way immigration is managed so that most would feel the benefit, as Martin Wolf from the Financial Times puts it, but also in the role EU states play, acting individually or together.


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