Monday

24th Jul 2017

Bosnia applies for EU membership

  • Dragan Covic (l) signed Bosnia's application to the EU with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini (r) and Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders (c). (Photo: Council of the EU)

Bosnia and Herzegovina formally applied for membership of the EU on Monday (15 February) in Brussels.

The chairman of the country's tripartite presidency, Dragan Covic, said the move is "an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can reform our country for the benefit of all citizens".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The EU describes the application as an achievement, primarily for the people of the Balkan nation.

But despite the niceties, there is little real appetite for enlargement in Brussels and any prospect of full membership is likely to take years.

The former Yugoslav republic remains gripped by poverty, corruption and high youth unemployment. Many of its young people are leaving the country.

The point was partly made by EU neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Speaking alongside Covic, Hahn said "membership is not possible within a couple of months or even a few years".

Instead, Hahn described the application in terms of "concrete European perspectives".

Hahn was broadly following the same line as EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

When Juncker took office in 2014, he told the Western Balkans that "no further enlargement will take place over the next five years”.

But the application is still seen as an important signal for EU leaders that Bosnia may mend its political and ethnic divides.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said it also points towards further European unity.

"It is also a powerful message for the citizens of the European Union that our project of integration is still a powerful one," she said.

'Need to be credible'

Last November, the EU Commission gave Bosnia a positive report on its enlargement process. It noted Bosnia and Herzegovina "is back on the reform track".

In June, an EU pact was launched to deepen political, trade and economic ties with Bosnia.

"This is a year of many challenges, we need to improve our economy but also we need to be credible in order to become a member of the EU family," said Covic.

Bosnia is split into two political and ethnic entities, which renders decision-making complex.

Bosniaks and Croats mostly live in the region of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Republika Srpska is home to mainly Serbs.

The division followed the bloody war in the former Yugoslavia that left most of its infrastructure destroyed. Some 100,000 people were killed.

On Monday, police in the capital city Sarajevo arrested three men wanted by the UN for crimes committed during the Yugoslav war in the early 1990s.

Analysis

Bosnia's EU application masks turmoil

The former Yugoslavia republic said it will formally apply to the EU next Monday. But the country still faces a number of underlying problems that make accession an unrealistic possibility in the short term.

Bosnia political divisions laid bare in census row

Bosnia must publish much-delayed census data before 1 July, otherwise its EU membership bid could be torpedoed. It could radically alter the quota-based governing system put in place after the war.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

News in Brief

  1. Wallonia's Magnette leaves national politics
  2. Polish president vetoes justice reforms
  3. Turkey arrests protesters, as journalists go to trial
  4. Poll: Only 24% of Germans want 'strong leader'
  5. US envoy: 'hot war' not frozen conflict in Ukraine
  6. BMW denies Dieselgate cartel allegations
  7. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  8. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. German car cartel case may take long time to prove
  2. Stronger EU-Egypt ties must not disregard human rights
  3. Orban vows to defend Poland from EU's 'inquisition'
  4. Greece looking at bond market return
  5. Young people show up in droves to defend Poland's courts
  6. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  7. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  8. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions