New border controls when Croatia joins the EU in July could be bad news for the Bosnians.
Croatia joining the EU on 1 July 2013 brings Bosnia and Herzegovina a step closer to its own accession. But it also means their shared border will be the outer border of the EU itself, with all that entails. Expected new regulations will have a significant impact on a country with a struggling economy and very strong cross-border cultural and commercial ties.
The ethnic Croat community is less than 10% of Bosnia’s total population but is concentrated in the southern part of the country, Herzegovina. The distinctive red and white check Croatian national flag is a common sight, as are cars registered in each of the countries.
Croatia will need to negotiate with other EU states to allow Bosnian nationals to cross the border without passports from 1 July. And until Bosnian legislation is harmonised with EU standards, export of milk, dairy, eggs and poultry will be stopped and there are question marks over potatoes.
Salad vegetables and fruit will still be allowed as long as ‘size, structure, appearance and fragrance’ satisfies border controls.
There will be two export border crossings, at Nova Gradiška-Gradiška in the north and Nova Sela-Bijača in the south, at the closest point to the important Croatian port, Ploče.
Building work is on-going at Bijača. The EU’s Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Peter Sorensen, and ambassadors from the UK, Sweden, France and Czech Republic attended last week (above).