comment 27 Jan 16

Bosnia’s EU Application: Political Ruse or Misguided Optimism?

Bosnia's plan to submit an application to join the EU in 2016 is more of a strategy to divert attention from internal political and economic problems rather than an indicator of real progress.

Jessie Hronesova
BIRN
The headquarters of European Commission | Photo: Flickr

The last two months of 2015 were marked by optimism about Bosnia’s EU prospects. In November 2015, the EU progress report provided more a positive assessment than the country arguably deserved, leading to brash statements in the following month from the government that Bosnia would formally apply for membership in January 2016.

Instead, on January 1, the European Parliament suspended preferential trade arrangements with Bosnia after the country repeatedly failed to adjust its export quotas to EU levels. A week later, the EU delegation in Sarajevo announced that without releasing the October 2013 census data, Bosnia cannot submit its EU application.

In spite of these setbacks, Bosnian policymakers seem determined to submit their application in the coming weeks. This claim should not be seen as an indicator of a major breakthrough, but as a strategy aimed at diverting attention from the country’s economic and political problems before the 2016 municipal elections.

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