Monday

23rd Oct 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift

EU leaders at their summit spent some three hours deliberating on relations with Turkey before asking the EU commission to come up with a plan on cutting and reorienting some €4.5 billion in pre-accession aid.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks