European integration is an increasingly mass, individualized process of “foot voting” – the relocation of young people from the Vicinity to those countries in Europe and the world that have a shortage of labour and an excess of money.

Voja Žanetić

Every parent experiences the difficult, but at the same time joyful, moment their child stops believing in the real existence of Santa Claus. Admittedly, and at the same time fortunately, the time of occurrence of that turning point in the life of youths cannot be exactly determined, because for some time the children, for lucrative reasons, fake believe that a man with a beard leaves them gifts for Christmas or New Year – and with the help of a flying sled also pulled by flying reindeer. And at the end of that two-way process of deception, Santa Claus is mentioned only symbolically, as a sign of mere respect for the period of growing up. And we all know that we lied to ourselves from the beginning, but we keep silent about it for the sake of the peaceful continuation of mutual love and harmony. And maybe Santa Claus will still come.

Because hope springs eternal.

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In order not to bore the readers with a parody of this story about Santa Claus – who would bring gifts to children if they have been good and met clusters of his conditions – we will immediately move on to the thesis that the story of EU accession has over time become a fairytale, and one that fewer and fewer inhabitants of our Vicinity believe in. And for the sake of lucrative gifts, which can still be obtained from Brussels and its surroundings, everyone pretends that it is the same as when, for example, Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the EU by emergency procedure. And that the countries of the Western Balkans – which are not very integratively capable and willing anyway – will be overtaken by such fairytale luck.

At this point we should add that a few days ago it was shared that there are currently around 230,000 job vacancies in Austria. For those who are just finishing high school or university, this data point and similar ones persistently arriving from Europe, is a clear signal that you should take your passport and seek happiness where there is work and where the work is well paid. Now let’s transfer this to the topic of this issue of Vicinity, and that would be the attitude of the young generations here towards Euroscepticism and Europositivism. It can be concluded that the elderly may still have a little bit of reason to believe in the Brussels Santa Claus, but the younger ones have much less. This is not strange, because the entry of an entire country into the European Union is not too much of a concern for someone who can enter the same economic and political space individually and on their own initiative; showing a passport at the border crossing and getting a job almost immediately after that.

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In ancient times, when a one-way plane ticket, to, for example, Stockholm, did not cost as little as 50 euros, political changes could have been thought about and thought about hard. In those circumstances, young generations, eager for a better future, actively worked on realizing that future within their own home territory. Protests, voting, pressure on the elderly, and even revolutions – there was a wide range of possibilities with which the new generations created a personal and, consequently, a collective improved world. In these years of this century, all those options have been narrowed down to one word: goodbye. Regional countries, whose territories were fought for passionately and with blood after the fall of the Berlin Wall, see their young more and more often only during the holidays and in the vacation season, when they return from, for example, that same Berlin. That’s provided that communication was not reduced to just messages, video calls and pictures on Instagram. European integration is, therefore, an increasingly mass individualized process of “foot voting” – the relocation of young people from the Vicinity to those countries in Europe and the world that have a shortage of labour and an excess of money. And when asked what young people think about the process of integrating the Region into the EU, the answer can be – the same as Santa Claus. Only the elders are silent about it, and because they hope the youth will return one day. For example, when they admit us into the EU.

Hope, as we said, springs eternal.