As Ukraine protests continue to simmer, another eastern European state is seeing its accession chances narrow. The European Union announced it was halving financial aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina because of its failure to implement human rights reforms. This decision came as a major blow to Bosnia, which is lagging behind aspiring EU member states Montenegro and Serbia.
For the first, Brussels is becoming strict with Balkan countries, probably thanks to a series of painful mistakes, i.e., Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovenia —countries which pledged to make significant reforms and took a step back after accession.
The recent Ukraine fiasco may also be behind the E.U.’s new-found muscle. After years of courtship from Brussels, last month Kiev rebuffed a pair of landmark deals that would see Ukraine advance towards European integration, and pivoted towards Russia instead.
In Bosnia, the E.U. may be hoping to halt a dangerous precedent in its enlargement policy and show future candidates with similarly flawed human rights records (like, say, Turkey) that it means serious business.
For now, it remains to be seen how Bosnia will restart the accession momentum.