The European Union carries on its process of expansion in the Balkans. Today, a new country from that region officially became a candidate.
It’s been nine years since the European Union last expanded its borders. Croatia was the latest addition to the Union in 2013, continuing the process of welcoming Balkan nations under Brussels’ umbrella.
Since then, however, not only has the EU stopped expanding, but it has also shrinked with the departure of Great Britain. Brexit dealt a major blow to Europe’s unity, though today we can safely say it has hurt London more than Brussels.
The process of expansion in the Balkans never stopped. North Macedonia and Albania were the two countries most likely to join next, but there is now a new contender: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Last Tuesday, European Union ministers endorsed Bosnia’s candidature, which was officially confirmed today. “Bosnia and Herzegovina was granted the status of candidate country today,” tweeted Charles Michael on Thursday.
Bosnia is now the eight official candidate to join the EU. It is joined by Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine and the aforementioned Albania and North Macedonia.
Being officially recognized as a candidate is only the first of many lengthy bureaucratic processes to officially join the European Union. Now, Sarajevo and Brussels will have to start negotiations, and Bosnia will be allowed to join only when all the requirements will be met.
When will Bosnia join the EU
In order to join the EU, any country has to go through incredibly complicated negotiations processes. Despite Brussels’ help, these talks usually take years to complete.
The conditions to join the EU are broadly described on their official site and include “a stable democracy and the rule of law, a functioning market economy and the acceptance of all EU legislation, including of the euro.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the poorest countries in Europe, though not for lack of effort. It suffered immense destruction and atrocities barely 25 years ago, during the Yugoslavian wars. Bosnia was at the center of the conflict, being overrun by both Croatia and Serbia.
The siege of Sarajevo, which took place during that war, is the longest military siege in modern history. It lasted for over four years, during which the rest of the country was almost completely destroyed.
Bosnia, a 3.5 million people country, is still recovering from the war and will likely immensely benefit from joining the EU. Though, given their abysmal economic situation, it will take years before it actually happens.
But today marked a crucial step for the history of Bosnia, and will hopefully be remembered as the beginning of better times.