I was born in 1979 and spent my childhood in Šempeter pri Gorici, a perfectly remote small town surrounded by forests and hills near the border with Italy. When I hit 19, I moved to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana to study International Relations at the Faculty of Social Sciences. The studies became progressively good, I certainly felt that I made the right choice and enjoyed it. (I graduated several, several years later, but that’s a different story…)
While studying, I got involved in civil society activism by joining the Young European Federalists (JEF) Slovenia. I served as the organisation’s President in 2003 and was elected to the Executive Bureau of its European platform (JEF Europe) for the years 2003-05. It was a lot of fun and the most intense learning experience of my life. It gave me a strong feeling of belonging and some of the people I met back then are still best friends today. Work itself was tough. Always short on funds, we had to go the extra mile to make things happen. Of course, all of it was unpaid. But those were the heydays of European integration, we were all captivated by what was possible. If anyone ever doubts about the value of civic engagement: don’t. It’s super beneficial in many ways. I think that people that grow up through activism (of any decent sort really) will be more rounded professionals with better social skills, full stop.
I got hooked and started moving around. In 2003, I landed in Berlin for half a year, to work for DGAP – a foreign policy think-tank. After returning to Slovenia for a short period, I headed to Brussels in autumn 2004 to coordinate the YES Campaign – the NGO European campaign in favour of the European Constitution. I continued with the European Movement International as Press and Communications officer. Those were the days of endless travel, grass-root activities and political debates. In the summer of 2007, I moved back to Ljubljana to join the Slovenian Government’s Office for European Affairs as an Advisor during the Slovenian EU Presidency. I covered the meetings of the (then) General Affairs and External Relations Council (that went by the fantastic acronym GAERC) and European Councils. A fantastic professional experience that was strong on substance, but also on emotions – the group of people I worked with back then were an inspiring bunch, dedicated 100% to the cause. After the Presidency was over, I returned to Brussels yet again to work at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement. A year later, I jumped to the European Parliament to head the of office of MEP Ivo Vajgl (sitting in the ALDE group) where I dealt with foreign policy and the EU’s response to the financial crisis. In many ways, the Parliament experience is unique, no other EU institution is like it. Very diverse, full of people and never a moment to sit back. This unforgiving work pace led me to conclude that taking an “intellectual” break would do me good. In a relatively short span of 7 years, I changed 4 jobs and worked within 3 different institutions – it was time to disconnect from Brussels and EU for a while.
So I crossed the Atlantic in the summer of 2011 and went back to school. The Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC was kind enough to grant me a Global Leaders Fellowship so I could read books, think, debate and write. For 2 full years! I absolutely loved it. Not only did I write extensively for my degree, I also started publishing (more or less) regular commentary pieces in the Slovenian daily Večer, mostly on issues related to the EU, but also on US politics and foreign affairs more widely. I published with Delo, another Slovenian daily, and several international outlets. (In case you wonder, my favorite piece, in English, is this one on the political sustainability of the EU.) It was a very creative period and I hope I’ll be able to repeat sometime soon. I completed the M.A. in May 2013 and joined the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia department shortly afterwards. Working as a consultant since, I’ve spent most time on the Bank’s programmes in Western Balkans and Central Asia. I moved some more as well: out of DC in 2015 to spend a year and something in Nicosia (glorious place, highly recommended) and then off to Brussels again in the summer of 2016 where I spend most of my time these days.
Outside the daily job and writings, my passion is mountain biking, wild swimming (if you wonder what that is, see here) and road trips. Love for the outdoors was always there, but it has grown in importance through the years. It is how I find internal balance and inspiration. Sometimes, it has also kept me going when I would otherwise quit. See my Vimeo channel for some rides or my Instagram feed for explorations.