The Ambivalent Role of the EU in the Western Balkans. “Limited Europeanization” – The Case of Bosnia-Herzegovina

GT 6.9 Inestabilidad política en los regímenes autoritarios y semiautoritarios euroasiáticos 20 años después de la desintegración de la URSS y Yugoslavia

Troncota Miruna (SNSPA (National School for Political and Administrative Studies))
Iordan Gheorghe Barbulescu

It became a shared opinion between European policy makers to state that without a serious commitment from the European Union (EU), the Western Balkans (WB) will find itself increasingly isolated from the unfolding developments around it and this may endanger the stability of the entire continent. The scope of this paper is two folded: first, to examine the role of the EU in the WB with a focus on democratic institution-building since 1995 till 2010; second, taking Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) as a case study, the article aims to determine whether there is a need for a new theoretical framework in order to more accurately define the specific process of the Europeanization inside the post conflict democratization process in the WB.

The coherence of EU’s approaches to the WB is one of the most challenging subjects inside the Europeanization studies. It became clear in the late years that there is a stark contrast between stated goals and their actual implementation. Based on the idea that Europeanization looks different when seen from Brussels and from the countries at the receiving end, the article tries to define the emergence of a new concept in order to incorporate the ‘Balkan Exceptionalism’ paradigm into the actual trends inside Europeanization. The second part of the article will analyze whether a democratic “political community” emerged in BiH during Europeanization (2000-2010) as a criterion of viable institution-building. As long as it failed to create ‘citizenship’ homogeneity when ‘ethnic’ or ‘political’ heterogeneity was the case, and as long as a degree of acceptance of differences is still missing, the ‘Balkan Exceptionalism’ paradigm could be further on employed in BiH instead of deepening Europeanization due to persistence of non-democratic institutional legacies in decision-making. This particular process would be defined as “limited Europeanization”.