In the run-up to the release of the European Commission’s opinion about the Bosnia and Herzegovina readiness to join the EU, Brussel’s Commissioner for Enlargement negotiations and Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn made clear on March 4 that the country has fallen far behind in implementing the economic and political reforms required to join the bloc.

Bosnia’s inability to speed up its institutional reforms, particularly in light of the fact that it failed to form a government after elections were held in October 2018, may have negative consequences for the country’s EU membership aspirations.

“I think it is important to manage expectations. One has to be realistic and despite our willingness to deliver on the opinion. it is important to understand that the Commission’s opinion is the basis for a final decision by the (EU) member states who will take into consideration the political atmosphere in the country,” Hahn said.

Speaking in front of the journalists with Milorad Dodik, Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency and a widely known firebrand Serb nationalist with strong ties to Russia, Hahn urged the country’s politicians to form a government as soon as possible to address the growing number of challenges facing the impoverished Western Balkans nation.

“It would be a mistake to believe that nothing has to be done between today and the delivery of our opinion to the Commission. It’s quite the opposite as Bosnia has to continue carrying out all of its necessary reforms efforts,” Hahn underlined.

Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats won with 31% of the votes and a seat on the country’s three-person presidency following the October election. The country’s tripartite collective presidency consisting of a Bosniak (Muslim), Croat, and Serb is a key part of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the country’s devastating three-year war in the early 1990s that resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and around 2 million displaced people.

Bosnia formally applied for the EU membership in 2016.