Zoran Milanovic’s offensive approach to neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina underscores the folly in the theory that EU membership would raise standards and encourage good neighbourly relations.
When Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, the vast majority of academics and pundits in Bosnia and Herzegovina were enthusiastic; they believed that Croatia’s accession would be good for Bosnia and that Croatia would support its neighbour in the process of European integration. I am hard pressed to remember if any serious analyst voiced any concerns back then as to whether this assumption had merit.
At the time, the idea of ‘Europeanisation’ still had currency. I remembered hearing about this idea frequently during my MA studies some 15 years ago. Europeanisation meant that the process of European integration and ultimate membership of the bloc would change states and societies for the better by compelling them to adopt the highest standards.
The process would also have a spill-over effect on neighbouring countries and would have a positive impact. It was assumed that Europeanisation would improve relations among neighbours – both EU and non-EU members.