Incentive, Shock, or Neither? The Impact of Croatian Accession on Bosnia's EU Negotiations

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What are the prospects for European Union accession in Bosnia, a country with a legacy of ethnic conflict and malfunctioning democracy? How might the accession of Croatia to the European Union affect this process? This paper analyses the current state of Bosnian politics through the lens of EU accession and considers the political and economic impact of Croatian accession. A lack of incentive for Bosnian politicians to implement the governmental changes needed for Europeanization—the process of adopting European rules—has created a stagnant and intransigent political climate, one made more difficult by the Bosnian bureaucracy. Ethnic divisions hard-wired into the Bosnian political system by Article IV of the Dayton Agreement make the political costs of Europeanization and institutional reform much higher than those associated with the continuation of ethnicity based parliamentary politics. However, Croatian accession (and the associated process of leaving the Central European Free Trade Agreement) will cause changes to the Bosnian economy, which heretofore has relied heavily on free trade with Croatia through CEFTA. A significant shock to the Bosnian economy caused by Croatian accession could trigger a political response, making Europeanization a viable alternative to the status quo. In order for the economic impact to be translated into politics, there must be an engaged populace willing to push for reform and translate their desire for Europeanization into a political force. Ultimately, I argue that the lack of effective inter-ethnic civil society and political mobilization in Bosnia will prevent significant political movement towards Europeanization, despite any economic discomforts caused by Croatia’s EU accession.

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Vol. 8, Iss. 1 (Fall 2014)



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Cornell University Library



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Rosenberg, Ryan. "Incentive, Shock, or Neither? The Impact of Croatian Accession on Bosnia's EU Negotiations." Cornell International Affairs Review Vol. 8, Iss. 1 (Fall 2014).

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