A strange dispute has been ignited in Slovakia. The terminology employed by its participants makes it rather strange. It is almost like seeing physicists argue whether a certain particle is inside the core or not. It may also resemble a quarrel among football enthusiasts: in the first or in the second league? However, this dispute has not been unfolding in a circle of scientists nor football experts, but amongst Slovak politicians. Its subject is nothing less than our future.
The poor choice of words is not the only thing that gives this quarrel its strange character. Another reason for its unusual nature is the fact that the participants are looking for an answer to a question that nobody had even bothered to ask yet. Should the EU be divided into an integrated centre and its less integrated residue in the near future, where shall we belong? This is the question worthy of intense discussion that´s necessary in order to thoroughly analyze the pros and cons of the two alternatives. Will Slovakia opt for much closer integration or are we going to refuse to follow this path?
So far, there has been no indication that we are, in fact, going to have this conversation. Arguments of the likes of “we want to be in the core and play the center spot in the first league alongside Germany” appear to have a clear support of the majority of people who intuitively sense their guarantee of our future prosperity. Richard Sulík (the leader of the Freedom and Solidarity party) had already attempted to question this premise for which he only received harsh criticism from almost all politicians and several analysts.
However, if this discussion is to have its own meaning, we need to break free from the shallow stereotype that responsible politicians want to see Slovakia in the core and in the premier league while the irresponsible ones want to sideline Slovakia to the bleak periphery. Shifting the discussion into this position would mean that it had already been decided. It would seem as if anything but the core was very difficult to explain and almost impossible to conceive of.
Instead of a misleading debate we should get the important things straight. Let´s be honest with ourselves: the Slovak economy and the economies of other countries on the brink of the potential core have fundamentally different parameters. What we share is the euro and our desire to belong to the core. However, this is not enough. If we were to be admitted to the centre however, Slovakia would be more sidelined in the narrower EU than it is in its current form.
Professor Luigi Zingales has recently talked about the unification of Italy and the EU in an interview with Trend, a weekly, pointing out the comparative problems that appeared during both processes. “We had a small elite craving for unification and they succeeded. It resulted in a total dominance of the north over the south, which turned out to be devastating for southern Italy… I fear that a similar faith could await the whole of Europe”. Talks about the core and the first league do not implicitly guarantee prosperity. They could also signify Sicily. We should stop putting labels on everything. Instead, let’s start to think.