I remember the elections in Croatia when they promised to join the EU, and then nothing, and after that the promises went on and on. People were getting more and more hyped like it’s some PR campaign for the new Kanye West album. Most had in their heads this image of the EU, like some fairy with a magic wand, and she is there to solve all the problems, to raise the standard and correct all that is bad.
To me, that Union before the Union was Slovenia. She was something so desired, so close and yet so far away. Desired in terms of order. While I would happily cross the border and go to a performance in a Slovenian village – it does not have to be a city, but even a small town, it was clear that we are coming to an area of better standard and more orderly society. Every village has a club with perfect loudspeakers, the backstage is great, it is tidy, all the equipment is numbered and all the equipment is understandably there. The organization was at the level of a better festival in Zagreb, and we are talking about a small town with maybe 2000 inhabitants. Always paid, without any objections, all with a smile.
Some Started to Lament
When they got into the EU, almost nothing changed in that regard, everything still worked great, only the talking point of people changed, some started to lament, fuck this, everything is fucked Edo. They would have the story of a sufferer that we could not really understand. I didn’t take them so seriously, I mean I nodded all serious, almost the same way I nodded to our emigrants in Bern who would tell me that Switzerland sucks, that it’s really hard and tricky, the same way I’m now listening to my daughter who whines to me that her computer is too slow for her game…
I’m exaggerating, well, when the euro came in it was a little harder. That entry of the euro affects the standard of life and everything becomes much more expensive overnight. As a dude who does not live there, it did not seem like too much change because I visited, before the EU. I did not live there but came for the weekend and knew the whole topic superficially. These people were a more conscious community than the one I come from and the one I live in, even before the euro. People eat healthier, on their own, without a doctor’s recommendation, there are fewer smokers, there are more recreational athletes, traffic rules are followed a bit more, there is corruption, of course, but much less than in the east. OK, they didn’t have that much war, but they already had some European consciousness when they welcomed the EU, at least so it seemed, to me at least.
In Croatia, we all longed for the EU at first, and then as it became more realistic, more and more people were against it, and it reminds a little of this whole situation with vaccines…
Some really had very good explanations and others went for the paranoia trip. We shall be no more, the EU will take us, both us and our domestic tomato. These conditions have been fulfilled for years, and I know that nothing would have changed for the better in any segment of society if those above hadn’t been forced to make those changes. Forced. It has to be like this or nothing at all.
It was frustrating, you have to get used to things going through the bank account, that there is no more cash in hand, it’s even fiscal to pee on the public toilet. Some things really got better, starting with the obvious ones like taking a trip with only an ID card. If you do something where you can be competitive anywhere in Europe, there is almost no more roaming. Acquaintances and friends with good ideas and balls flourished. They bypassed a lot of things that in various ways hampered them in their midst. Some left with ease, with their ID, and some continued even better from Croatia, while some had it even worse.
A large part of folks moved permanently, a lot of my friends, mostly to Ireland, but also to the rest of the EU. We see and hear each other often over WhatsApp and they are much better off. Now after a few years of living in new homelands this satisfaction is easily seen on them, children are happier, they are much better paid, they work longer and are more satisfied, their medical test results are good, they laugh more, they come for bigger holidays and over the summer. Now after a couple of years a lot of them are already telling me they will never come back.
H&M for Music Festivals
The first concert in Slovenia with an EU passport, that is, the ID card was at a new festival. Slovenians I know have been technicians and organizers for a long time, but the festival is owned by some Poles or Italians, I don’t remember anymore, they have a franchise, something like H&M but for music festivals. They get some foreign performers for cheap, and there are no benefits and costs that would exist if they were in country that is not in the EU. Don’t worry, the Slovenes didn’t fall for it, even though they were afraid, but when we can be in their labour market, so are they in ours. Everything opens, in all segments and directions.
There are these funds, and there are people who know how to get money out of the funds, most are still learning. The trainings started in the first months after joining the Union, how to apply, in which segments, which jobs, how and how much money, who pays for it and what the conditions are, deadlines and everything else. There are incentive loans for private businesses, crafts, and as I noticed from year to year, they are growing. Some lived only from it, took the cash, then nothing, and then after a couple of years they tried again, but no more, no one is a fool.
I’m just getting ready to apply… For example, during COVID, we, freelance artists, received two or three payments from the state, help of about 500 euros each time, for a year. It’s, of course, too little, but it’s still help, and it helped at a time when everyone tells us to go dig up potatoes. Colleagues in the EU had a lot more, regularly, every month. They would have it even without the EU, but we would not have these three aids, three humanitarian ones or whatever, if we were not part of the EU.
Healthcare is almost the same, doctors are bribed, some go to work in the EU for much more money. Patients have the same waiting lists, the same rooms, all the same…
Corruption is more or less the same, jobs are still obtained through fixers, and until recently Bandić had worked out the whole business with everyone, as if transparently, but everything is settled on barbecues and in taverns.
The police and the legal system are doing a purge here and there, again because they are under pressure from the Union, so it looks like the rule of law is finally working. And it really works in some cases, but in most it still doesn’t.
Fixers are still at work, and that is most disappointing. You have the concreting of the Adriatic coast. This year a lot of people had to gather in Vruja just to draw attention to the problem, whether it will be solved, and I hope it will, since it should. But it takes grit and balls when the president warns those gathered because he knows and appreciates a man who illegally concretes the coast.
But Wait Edo, There’s More
How much does it help that we are in the EU, and only somehow subconsciously, in the hope that someone from the Union will see it and put pressure to fix it? Let’s say in all these things it feels like when you’re a child, being beaten by your father. And then a neighbour moves next door, who is able to report the father, and takes him away if you get beaten up – some mix of cop, judge and father’s employer who loves kids, hahaha, so this fact helps you sleep at night.
The EU knows how to run into hypocrisy, corruption and crime, but it’s a shame for them since they strive for better, they reward better. – But wait Edo, there’s more. There are also various rights for those different, I’m more relaxed somehow that we’re in that company – a friend tells me and I agree with her.
So, I will have to go to Slovenia again. Where even today everything looks much more organized, tidy, the loudspeakers are better, the backstage is better and it actually exists, the equipment, goes without saying.
And yes, every now and then there are some mass protests because even today they’re fighting for a fairer and better society, they know that only they can and must change that, with or without the Union.
I think that people in Croatia are more and more aware of that…