Understanding the current state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to its European integration process and regionalism is, in general, closely linked to the outcomes of EU conditionality in practice. The current situation may be observed as a sum of reform successes and failures in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
However, in order to understand the process better, one has to view the entire game from another perspective, namely to measure the variable impact of EU conditionality in terms of differentiated reforms on the entities, the cantons and Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is a much more difficult task because the focus shifted from the national level down to the regional level, but is this not what Europe is all about, the regions?
Since I proposed EU conditionality as the code cracker to understand better the state of affairs, when it comes to regionalism and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I invite you to explore together the concept of conditionality as such. I remember finding some time ago some of the best interpretations of conditionality concepts in a book called “Politics and Institutions in an Integrated Europe”, Springer Verlag Berlin – Heidelberg 1995, in which the authors Eichengreen, Frieden und von Hagen observed conditionality as a plausibility probe.
They even went further on with their thesis and argued that EU conditionality as we know it is not that young. They mentioned the 1660 Treaty of Oliva, the agreements at the Congress of Vienna and later the Congress of Berlin, the WWI negotiations at Versailles in line with other treaties that had formal terms of political conditionality for European states to recognise each other.
At the very beginning when I attempted to explain why understanding the European integration process of Bosnia and Herzegovina is linked to EU conditionality, I linked the conditionality concept to the book I read, “Politics and Institutions in an Integrated Europe.” I will now quote Eichengreen, Frieden und von Hagen as then you will understand my reasons better: “The victors of World War I (led by Woodrow Wilson) made a point of establishing that conditionality of this kind (my remark: referring to the thesis “formal terms of political conditionality” in the late 19th and early 20th century) had a practical basis as well as an established foundation of legitimacy in European history and law. “
The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is closely linked to the future of the EU. Therefore, if we think of EU conditionality as a plausible probe, this will not take us much further in terms of European integration. However, if we think of it as a tool to promote political, economic and social changes in order to promote security among European states “without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion,” then we are getting closer to the common European values.
I argue that the lack of proper understanding of the tool of conditionality led Europe to lose its focus and commit the very same mistake that they would like to see Bosnia omit, which is “not to speak with one voice”. Due to complex government structures, the EU is forced to find a partner to unblock the EU integration wheel of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In doing so, they are forced to find partners that are not always in the state structures but in the entire structure of key players when it comes to European integration. This left space for confusion for quite a while. It is recently when the EU came up with the concept of Reforms Agenda, including all relevant levels of governance in the process in which the first serious results were achieved.
by Mujo Hadzic
The Report on the state of Regionalisation in Europe.
More than 40 experts contributed to this work, by delivering detailed reports about the state of regionalisation and multilevel governance in chosen European countries. The study covers 41 countries, and each country report is based on a similar structure, thereby allowing a comparative approach among all studied countries.
- The first part of the report gives the political impetus from the main European stakeholders
- The second part of this report entails a summarised version of the country reports. The objective is to provide interested readers with a short overview of the main features of regionalisation in various European countries. The complete versions of the country reports are available on the AER website, under LINK
- The third part provides a thematic approach based on the main findings delivered by the country reports and the current state of regionalisation in Europe. The trends and outlooks lead to open questions on the future of the regions in the European landscape, and more broadly on the role of subnational authorities in the shaping of the continent.
- The fourth part gives the floor to the actual regional decision-makers in Europe, across a series of interviews and statements by Presidents, Vice-Presidents and elected representatives of the European regions.
Over the next months, we will be focusing on a different European country’s approach to regionalisation. During these months, look out for #RoR2017 on Twitter and/or Facebook and follow us at @europeanregions.
Strong European regions are a pathway to a stronger Europe.