Bosnia applies for EU membership
Bosnia and Herzegovina formally applied for membership of the EU on Monday (15 February) in Brussels, writes euobserver.com.
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”.
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.