SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina), October 14 (SeeNews) – Bosnia has made little progress towards accession to the European Union this year as deteriorating political climate and nationalistic rhetoric have stalled reforms, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
“Reform implementation has been slow, mainly due to a lack of consensus and political will, but also to the complex institutional organisation of the country,” the Commission said in a statement, outlining the key findings of its progress report on Bosnia.
Bosnia consists of two highly autonomous regions, a Muslim-Croat Federation and a Serb Republic, which have their own governments. They are overarched by a weaker central government, and the Federation, on its part, consists of 10 cantons with their own governments.
The Commission said the country has adopted a very limited number of European integration-related. Bosnia signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU in June 2008 but has made no progress since then due to a lasting political deadlock.
Bosnia was the only Western Balkan state to receive a negative assessment by the EU on Wednesday. Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro are progressing well, the Commission said.
“The authorities [in Bosnia] have not yet demonstrated sufficient capacity to take the necessary political ownership and responsibility,” the Commission said.
“The role played by ethnic identity in politics has continued to hamper the functioning of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary as well as the country's overall governance,” it added.
Bosnia's institutions remain weak by both global and regional standards. Following the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, institution-building has been hindered by the unwieldy government structure and, at times, a lack of cooperation amongst the various levels of government and ethnic groups.
The Commission said Bosnia has been severely affected by the global economic crisis but the timely reaction of the central bank and the currency board have preserved the financial and monetary stability of the country. Yet, Bosnia has made little further progress towards a functioning market economy and needs considerable reform to cope over the long term with competitive pressure and market forces within the European Union.
High unemployment, weak productive capacity and inefficient administration continue to worsen business environment.
The amendment of the constitution to regulate the status of Bosnia’s neutral Brcko district was one of the few positive developments the Commission outlined.