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EU approves German-UK initiative on Bosnia

December 15, 2014

The European Union has agreed to back a German-UK initiative meant to revive Bosnia's bid to join the bloc. The plan offers the carrot of EU funds in exchange for Bosnian politicians implementing key reforms.

Bosnia's flag pictured next to an EU flag
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/DW

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday agreed to implement a German-UK plan in a bid to revive Bosnia's bid to join the 28-member bloc.

Under the plan, the EU is demanding that Bosnian politicians implement key legal, social and economic reforms designed to make the country's structures more compatible with those of the bloc. A press statement issued following Monday's talks said that in return for those reforms, the ministers would consider endorsing Bosnia and Herzegovina's Stabilization and Association agreement with the EU, a move that would give it access to EU funds.

However, they said this could only come after they have received a written pledge to do so from Bosnia's politicians.

"This could be a turning point in Bosnia and Herzegovina's path towards the European Union," the bloc's foreign policy coordinator, Federica Mogherini, told a news conference.

Due to Bosnia's fragile economy, the country, which currently relies on the International Monetary Fund to meet its budget deficit, is in serious need of extra funding.

Uphill struggle

The troubled Balkan state launched its bid to join the EU in 2010, but it continues to be plagued by economic stagnation, official corruption and an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent.

Its system of ethnic power-sharing between the Muslim Bosniaks, the Orthodox Serbs, and the Catholic Croats has also hindered Bosnia's efforts to become an EU member state.

Majority in favor

Since the country's general election in October, Bosnia is yet to form a national government. However, according to the Reuters news agency, the new lower house of parliament's inaugural session last week saw the emergence of a majority, seemingly in favor of the German-British initiative.

The statement issued by the EU ministers on Monday also stressed the "crucial importance" of quickly forming a government.

In February, in the worst violence since the war, demonstrators torched government buildings across the country in protest against political inertia, unemployment and corruption.

ksb/pfd (Reuters, AFP)