EU and Western Balkans

The new year 2016 started with pompous statements by Bosnian politicians (Crnadak, Ivanic, Zvizdic) about Bosnia and Herzegovina’s intention to submit its EU application in 2016. Although such announcement are a political ruse – especially given the many pending problems and in the view of the upcoming October 2016 municipal elections, Bosnia’s submission, is not an indicator of when it would enter the EU.

After all – Turkey submitted in 1987 (for the second time). Even if that is not a fair comparison as there was never an agreement on Turkey’s prospects across the EU member states, we should not understand an application as an indicator of progress but as a political strategy for the eyes of the public.

The table below also speaks to the diversity of timings and processes with respect to EU membership. The candidate status was granted to Croatia and Macedonia within a few more than a year of applying, within roughly two to Montenegro, short of three to Serbia and five to Albania. But negotiations with Macedonia were never opened (though recommended in 2009) and it took nearly three years for Serbia to open them. And even then, because of regional disputes with Slovenia and internal problems, it took seven years for Croatia – the most successful post-war country in the Western Balkans – to enter. So even with the application of BiH (a negative report by the European Commission will certainly follow), it does not change the most optimistic prospects for its EU entry in 2025.

EU Balance for the Western Balkans

Country Application submitted Candidate status granted Negotiations opened Membership granted
Croatia 2003 2004 2006 1 July 2013
Montenegro 2008 2010 2012
Serbia 2009 2012 2015
Albania 2009 2014
Macedonia 2004 2005
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2016

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