EU Candidate Status
On October 12, 2022, the European Commission recommended official European Union (EU) candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Considered a potential candidate since 2003, the country only formally applied for EU candidate status in 2016. The recommendation of the Commission does not mean that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be granted candidate status very soon. Nevertheless, it is sending a positive message to the country, signaling EU candidate status in the future if it implements more reforms.

The EU Candidate Status: A Tool for the Country’s Development

Obtaining EU candidate status to bolster development drives many countries to apply to the European Union. However, in order to obtain candidate status, countries must pass specific legal and political reforms.  For instance, the EU may ask countries to work on reducing corruption, poverty and social inequality.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Pathway

On December 2019, the Council of the European Union endorsed 14 key priorities for Bosnia and Herzegovina to obtain candidate status. These 14 priorities are a roadmap for the country in its path to implement strategic reforms to achieve candidate status. Political priorities include aligning its constitutional framework to European standards and improving its judiciary. Economic priorities include improvements in educational quality and energy infrastructure.

Furthermore, the EU has a special process for Western Balkans countries, called the “stabilization and association process.” This process has three aims:  political stability and a quick transition to a market economy, regional cooperation and eventual EU membership. The Western Balkans process provides Bosnia and Herzegovina with financial assistance, trade concessions and assistance for stabilization and reconstruction needed due to the war in the 1990s.

The Progress and Obstacles

The European Commission’s 2022 Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina outlined some progress on the 14 key priorities. The country made some progress in addressing environmental challenges and sustainable connectivity. It also made progress in its migration policies.

When it comes to the economic criteria, the country is slowly establishing a market economy. However, its economic performance is still below its potential. Its Economic Reform Programme does not include enough measures to tackle economic challenges on a national scale, such as the informal economy and unemployment, per the report.

The report also outlined little or no progress in the political sector. A key obstacle is that the country remains politically unstable. Indeed, the political entity representing the Bosnian Serbs, the Republika Srpska is trying to “unilaterally take over state competencies” and is threatening to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina due to potential accession to the EU. The European Commission also noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina did not make a lot of progress when it comes to tackling corruption and organized crime.

The Path Forward

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been seeking to join the EU for almost two decades. To reach the EU candidate status that will foster its development, the country needs to build upon its improvements on the 14 key priorities. It also needs to step up efforts to overcome the obstacles blocking any progress. If Bosnia and Herzegovina uses the support it has gained through the special Western Balkan process, the next report on its progress should be more positive. Perhaps the European Commission’s recommendation is the encouragement that Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to improve its EU candidacy potential.

– Evan Da Costa Marques
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Poland
Poland has been a NATO member since 1999. It was not until five years later in 2004 that Poland became a member of the European Union (E.U.) after signing the Accession Treaty. In addition, Poland has been a member of the Schengen area since 2007. Poland’s cooperation and membership in these intergovernmental organizations continue to benefit its economic condition. E.U. membership, in particular, stimulated Poland’s economy towards sustainable development and helped in the fall of poverty in Poland.

Economic Situation of Poland (After and Before Accession to the European Union)

After Poland’s accession, E.U. regional policy programs guided the country through many beneficial investments over the years. Through these investments, Poland was able to develop and maintain its infrastructure, economy, tourism, education, healthcare and governance. In order to eliminate disparities between its regions, the E.U. fund seeks to build a stronger economy, stable territorial lines and cohesion in the union. During the 2014-2020 programming period, Poland managed to enforce hundreds of projects.

According to data from 2003 until 2018, the economy of Poland is continuously improving. In 2003, a year before E.U. membership, the total value of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Poland was $477.94 billion. After five years of being a member of the E.U., Poland’s economic growth for 2009 was $760.35 billion. In this case, membership in the E.U. benefited the economy of the region. According to the European Commission’s 2012 Aging Report projects during 2010-2060, Poland will be the second-fastest-growing economy in the E.U., following Bulgaria.

The strong economic performance over the years led to the rapid rising of GDP per capita in Poland. Its GDP per capita has risen from $5,693 in 2003 to $15,565 in 2019. In 2004, the annual growth rate of GDP per capita was 17.35% in comparison to 2003. It is also important to mention that, in 2009, the annual growth rate of GDP per capita declined by -17.67% compared to the previous year. The economy of Poland was under tension in 2009 and another sizeable fall in numbers occurred in 2015. In 2014, GDP per capita was $14,348 and in 2015, it decreased to $12,572. However, from 2017 to 2019, the numbers increased. In fact, in 2019, the GDP per capita in Poland reached the highest point ever in the country’s history at $15,565.

Unemployment in Poland

Various indicators estimate a trend of decreasing poverty in Poland. The unemployment rate demonstrates this well. After Poland regained its independence, unemployment was one of the most pressing social and economic issues. E.U. membership contributed to the decline in the unemployment rate. Foreign investments and the funds from the E.U. financing programs decreased the percentage of unemployment and created new jobs. At the same time, the opening of the European labor market created job opportunities outside of Poland for the unemployed, subsequently aiding the fall of poverty in Poland.

From the beginning of 2003 to 2009, the unemployment rate decreased significantly in Poland. The unemployment rate decreased from 19.07% in 2004 to 3.47% in 2019. According to some economists, if Poland never joined as an E.U. member, they would be at the same level as Ukraine, which had a slightly higher GDP than Poland in 1990.


Poland underwent a successful transition from a communist-state background to a stable and competitive European country. One of the main reasons for their success is that Poland joined. In 2007-2013 and 2014-2020, Poland was the largest beneficiary of the E.U. funds. Investments helped Poland improve its transport infrastructure, health, education, environment efficiency, network infrastructure, social cohesion, research and development.

– Tofig Ismayilzada
Photo: Flickr