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Debate: Bosnia and Herzegovina membership in the EU

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Should Bosnia and Herzegovina accede to the European Union?

Background and context

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country on the Balkan peninsula of South Eastern Europe. In recent years, it has engaged in dialogue regarding its prospective membership in the European Union.
Negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement - the first step before applying for membership - started in 2005 and a final agreement was signed on 16 June, 2008. Accompanying the signature of the agreement was a renewed debate regarding whether Bosnia and Herzegovina should go through with accession to the EU.

The issues involved in this debate can be framed by numerous questions: Is Bosnia and Herzegovina stable enough to join the EU? Is it adequately unified under the Dayton Agreement? Will joining the EU help solve some of its problems and stabilize the country? Will accession strengthen the EU itself? Will it increase EU power? Will it improve or weaken the integration and decision-making of the EU? Is Bosnian instability a liability to the EU? Is helping the country succeed through membership important to EU credibility? Is Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the wider Balkan region, part of Europe? Do Bosnians support EU membership? Is Bosnia and Herzegovina reforming at a sufficient pace for EU membership? What are the economic pros and cons of Bosnia and Herzegovina accession? Will accession increase the broader GDP of the EU? Will it improve trade and cross-border opportunities? Will workers in more developed EU countries lose out? What are the general pros and cons of EU expansion?

For greater background, see the following Wikipedia articles: Bosnia and Herzegovina, European Union, Enlargement of the European Union, and Accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the European Union

Contents

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Stability: Will EU membership help stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina?

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Yes

  • Recent successes of Bosnia warrants its EU membership. Wolfgang Petritsch. "The EU’s Kosovo catalyst". Daily News Egypt. 18 Feb. 2008 - "Economic developments in the region are promising; almost all its economies are posting high growth, fueled by increasing industrial output and exports. Inward investment is steadily rising, as business seems to believe that the remaining political and security challenges -- the possible negative effects of post-independence Kosovo and Bosnia's malaise -- will be overcome sooner rather than later."


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No

  • Bosnia needs greater constitutional unity before joining EU Bosnia and Herzegovina international envoy Miroslav Lacjak said in October 2008: "With the current political set-up in accordance with the terms of the Dayton peace agreement, it is certainly impossible to join the EU. [...] Everyone knows this set-up is untenable in the long term...Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be satisfied with it, it has to push further forward."[1]


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EU: Would Bosnia and Herzegovina membership improve the EU itself?

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Yes

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina membership will increase EU power. Adding any new state to the EU will increase its geopolitical power on many levels; increasing its population size, tax base, economy, territory, and its natural resources.
  • Bosnia's violence is not unique in bloody Europe. George McFarlane. Facebook Discussion Board. 23 Aug. 2008 - "Europe, as a whole, is a bloody continent. As horrifying as the strife in Bosnia has been, there are few European nations without an equally grim legacy."[2]
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No

  • Unstable Bosnia and Herzegovina would be an EU liability. There is a significant chance that Bosnia and Herzegovina will disintegrate after acceding to the EU. This would become a major financial liability for EU states and would strain its institutional integrity and credibility.
  • Bosnia membership would impair EU integration/decision-making. "EU expansion - the pros and cons explained". Times Online. 9 Oct. 2002 - "[By expanding to include Bosnia and Herzegovina] Decision-making is going to become more cumbersome. It is bad enough with ten members, let alone 25. There is a feeling that the national veto will have to be scrapped. The EU can't have a situation in which Estonia, for example, is able to hold up a decision passed by 24 other countries. The complicated issue of how to share out the EU's €80 billion (£50 billion) aid budget for farmers and poor regions has still to be resolved, and this will doubtless cause problems as existing members fight to keep their share of the budget."


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Economics: What are the economic pros and cons of EU membership?

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Yes

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina EU membership will strengthen trade/economy "Prime Minister expresses support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU and NATO membership". MTI Econews. 12 June 2008 - "Mr Gyurcsany signed a declaration of support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU accession following his meeting with Mr Spiric. Mr Gyurcsany said that Hungarian investors are primarily interested in telecommunications, energy and tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that Hungary is also planning to participate in the development of both road and railway infrastructure in the country. Mr Gyurcsany added that customs duties imposed on imports between Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina will be cancelled in a couple of weeks."
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina will benefit from EU programs. "EU expansion - the pros and cons explained". Times Online. 9 Oct. 2002 - "Their citizens will be able to benefit from a wide range of work, education and training programmes. They will be free to live, work and study where they choose in the EU. If they remain at home then they will benefit from generous EU aid programmes designed to ensure that on integration no new entrant is left behind on the economic hard shoulder."


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No

  • Transition to the Euro will limit Bosnian economic controls. EU accession will naturally entail the transition of Bosnia to the Euro, away from its Convertible Marks. This will limit Bosnian monetary sovereignty and flexibility. The broader economic interests of the EU will take precedent over Bosnian economic interests.



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BiH democracy: Will EU membership improve BiH democracy/governance?

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Yes

  • EU membership would give Bosnia global political clout. "EU expansion - the pros and cons explained". Times Online. 9 Oct. 2002 - "Pros for entrants: To put it crudely - political responsibility. These countries will have reached a stage where both their economies and political infrastructures are in line with Western democracies, which shows just how far they have come since the fall of communism. Once they are in the EU they will be able to sit at the top table of 25 countries and have some political clout on the world stage, something they would have been unable to do had they been kept out of the EU."
  • Strong Bosnian support for joining EU will help push reforms. "Bosnia 'Must Fix' Constitution to Join EU". Balkan Insight. 22 May 2008 - "more than 70 percent of Bosnia’s population is in favour of Bosnia’s EU membership, will force local politicians – despite their differences and squabbling – to 'find common agreement on a bare minimum of constitutional arrangements that are consistent with the demands of European Union membership,' Lajcak added."


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No

  • Political difficulties jeopardize Bosnia accession to EU. "EU concerned about political situation in Bosnia". Bosnia News. 27 Sept. 2007 - "SOLANA: Yes, it is true that the political situation is worsening, and we are again concerned about the situation in Bosnia at the highest level. The views of the main leaders continue to diverge and it seems increasingly difficult to reach agreement on the key issues. It would be a very bad signal if Bosnia falls behind Serbia this autumn in the EU integration process."
  • EU membership will limit certain Bosnian democratic freedoms. Accession to the EU will subject Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens to the laws of the EU. Yet, Bosnians will have less sway over these laws.
  • EU institutions lack democratic transparency. EU institutions lack the transparency that exists in national political entities. This is largely because Brussels politics is significantly removed from the public eye of EU nations. In addition, the size of the EU bureaucracy hampers democratic accountability.


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Identity: Does Bosnia and Herzegovina have the identity to join the EU?

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Yes

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina is part of Europe/EU. "Bosnia and Herzegovina is part of Europe". Baltic News Service. 26 June 2007 - "Bosnia and Herzegovina is a European country, the head of the Estonian government said here today, encouraging the Balkan country's aspirations for membership in the European Union and NATO."


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No

  • EU accession jeopardizes Bosnia's new found identity. "EU expansion - The pros and cons explained". Times Online. 9 Oct. 2002 - "Some will feel that after all the hard won gains following the fall of communism they will be losing their independence and, to a certain extent, their identity." The same applies to Bosnia and Herzegovina's new found sense of identity following its establishment by the Dayton Agreement in 1995.


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Pro/con sources

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Yes


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No

See also

External links and resources


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