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Thursday, February 28, 2013

United Nations Regular Budget Contributions: Members Compared, 1990-2010



Marjorie Ann Browne
Specialist in International Relations

Luisa Blanchfield
Specialist in International Relations


The United States is the single largest contributor to the United Nations (U.N.) regular budget. As such, Members of the 113th Congress will likely continue to demonstrate an interest in the United States’ assessment level, the cost of the U.S. assessment each year, how U.S. contributions to the regular budget compare to those of other countries, and how assessment levels have changed over time.

This report provides the assessment level, actual payment, and total outstanding contributions for the United States and other selected U.N. member states from 1990 to 2010—the last year for which data are publicly available. In 2010, the United States was assessed to pay 22% (or $532,435,102) of the regular budget. The next largest contributors were Japan (12.53%), Germany (8.018%), the United Kingdom (6.604%), and France (6.112%).

This report is updated annually, or as the U.N. document upon which the data are based is published.



Date of Report: January 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: RL30605
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

European Union Enlargement



Kristin Archick
Specialist in European Affairs

The European Union (EU) has long viewed the enlargement process as an extraordinary opportunity to promote political stability and economic prosperity in Europe. Since 2004, EU membership has grown from 15 to 27 countries, bringing in most states of Central and Eastern Europe and fulfilling an historic pledge to further the integration of the continent by peaceful means. Analysts contend that the carefully managed process of enlargement is one of the EU’s most powerful policy tools, and that, over the years, it has helped transform many European states into functioning democracies and more affluent countries.

The EU maintains that the enlargement door remains open to any European country that fulfills the EU’s political and economic criteria for membership. At the same time, EU enlargement is also very much a political process; most all significant steps on the long path to accession require the unanimous agreement of the existing 27 member states. As such, a prospective EU candidate’s relationship or conflicts with individual member states may also influence a country’s EU accession prospects and timeline.

Croatia is currently considered an acceding country, and is expected to become the EU’s 28
th member in July 2013, subject to the completion of the ratification process in all existing 27 member states. Five other countries are recognized by the EU as official candidates for membership: Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. All are at different stages of the accession process. For example, while accession negotiations with Iceland are proceeding relatively quickly, Turkey’s accession talks have largely stalled, in part because of Turkish-EU disputes over the divided island of Cyprus. Similarly, Macedonia’s membership bid has been complicated by a long-standing disagreement with Greece over the country’s official name. The remaining Western Balkan states of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo are considered to be potential EU candidates, but most experts assess that it will likely be many years before any of these countries are ready to join the EU.

Despite the EU’s professed commitment to enlargement, some EU policymakers and many EU citizens are cautious about additional EU expansion, especially to Turkey or countries to the east, such as Georgia or Ukraine in the longer term. Worries about continued EU enlargement range from fears of unwanted migrant labor to the implications of an ever-expanding Union on the EU’s institutions, finances, and overall identity. Some commentators also suggest that the EU’s current sovereign debt crisis, which has hit the countries that use the EU’s common currency (the euro) particularly hard, could potentially slow future rounds of EU enlargement as EU leaders focus on remedying Europe’s financial troubles.

Successive U.S. Administrations and many Members of Congress have long backed EU enlargement, believing that it serves U.S. interests by advancing democracy and economic prosperity throughout the European continent. Over the years, the only significant U.S. criticism of the EU’s enlargement process has been that the Union was moving too slowly, especially with respect to Turkey, which Washington believes should be anchored firmly to Europe. Some U.S. officials are concerned that “enlargement fatigue” as well as the EU’s ongoing financial crisis could hinder EU expansion. The status of EU enlargement and its implications for both the EU itself and U.S.-EU relations may be of interest to the 113
th Congress. For additional information, see also CRS Report RS21372, The European Union: Questions and Answers, by Kristin Archick; and CRS Report RS22517, European Union Enlargement: A Status Report on Turkey’s Accession Negotiations, by Vincent Morelli. .


Date of Report: February 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: RS21344
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Current Issues and U.S. Policy



Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

In recent years, many analysts have expressed concern that the international community’s efforts over the past 17 years to stabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina are failing. Milorad Dodik, president of the Republika Srpska (RS), one of the two semi-autonomous “entities” within Bosnia, has obstructed efforts to make Bosnia’s central government more effective. He has repeatedly asserted the RS’s right to secede from Bosnia, although he has so far refrained from trying to make this threat a reality. Some ethnic Croat leaders in Bosnia have called for more autonomy for Croats within Bosnia, perhaps threatening a further fragmentation of the country.

The Office of the High Representative (OHR), chosen by leading countries and international institutions, oversees implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. It has the power to fire Bosnian officials and impose laws, if need be, to enforce the Dayton Accords. However, the international community has proved unwilling in recent years to back the High Representative in using these powers boldly, fearing a backlash among Bosnian Serb leaders. As a result, OHR has become increasingly ineffective, according to many observers. The international community has vowed to close OHR after Bosnia meets a series of five objectives and two conditions.

The EU’s main inducement to enlist the cooperation of Bosnian leaders—the prospect of eventual EU membership—has so far proved insufficient. The prospect of NATO membership has also had little effect. In April 2010, NATO foreign ministers agreed to permit Bosnia to join the Membership Action Plan (MAP) program, a key stepping-stone to membership for NATO. However, the ministers stressed that NATO will not accept Bosnia’s Annual National Plan under the program until the entities agree to the registration of defense installations as the property of the central government. Dodik has rejected doing so for installations on RS territory.

The U.S. political role in the country appears to have declined in recent years as the EU role has increased. The Obama Administration has stressed the importance of maintaining a close partnership with the EU in dealing with Bosnia. Like the EU, the United States has urged Bosnian politicians to agree among themselves to constitutional and other reforms to make Bosnia’s government institutions more effective and better coordinated, so that the country can become a better candidate for eventual NATO and EU membership.

The United States provided just over $2 billion in aid to Bosnia from the country’s independence through FY2012. Aid to Bosnia has declined in recent years. For FY2013, the Administration requested $28.556 million in aid for political and economic reforms in Bosnia from the Economic Support Fund, $6.735 million in the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement account (INCLE), $4.5 million in FMF, $1 million in IMET aid, and $4.75 million in NADR funding.



Date of Report: January 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R40479
Price: $29.95

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Friday, February 1, 2013

The European Union: Questions and Answers



Kristin Archick
Specialist in European Affairs

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic partnership that represents a unique form of cooperation among sovereign countries. The Union is the latest stage in a process of integration begun after World War II, initially by six Western European countries, to foster interdependence and make another war in Europe unthinkable. Today, the EU is composed of 27 member states, including most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and has helped to promote peace, stability, and economic prosperity throughout the European continent.

The EU has been built through a series of binding treaties, and over the years, EU member states have sought to harmonize laws and adopt common policies on an increasing number of economic, social, and political issues. EU member states share a customs union, a single market in which goods, people, and capital move freely, a common trade policy, and a common agricultural policy. Seventeen EU member states use a common currency (the euro). In addition, the EU has been developing a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which includes a Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), and pursuing cooperation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) to forge common internal security measures.

EU member states work together through common institutions to set policy and to promote their collective interests. Key EU institutions include the European Council, composed of EU Heads of State or Government, which acts as the strategic guide and driving force for EU policy; the European Commission, which upholds the common interest of the Union as a whole and functions as the EU’s executive; the Council of the European Union (also known as the Council of Ministers), which represents the national governments; and the directly elected European Parliament, which represents the citizens of the EU.

EU decision-making processes and the role played by the EU institutions vary depending on the subject under consideration. For most economic and social issues, EU member states have largely pooled their national sovereignty, and EU decision-making has a supranational quality. Decisions in other areas, such as foreign policy, require the unanimous consensus of all 27 member states. The Lisbon Treaty, which took effect in December 2009, is the EU’s latest attempt to reform its governing institutions and decision-making processes in order to enable an enlarged EU to function more effectively. The Lisbon Treaty also seeks to give the EU a stronger voice in the foreign policy realm and to increase democratic transparency within the EU.

The United States has strongly supported the European integration project since its inception as a means to foster democratic states and robust trading partners. The United States and the EU have a dynamic political partnership and share a huge trade and investment relationship. To expand and strengthen the transatlantic economy even further, the United States and the EU may soon embark on negotiations that could lead to a comprehensive trade and economic agreement. Nevertheless, some tensions exist, ranging from long-standing U.S.-EU trade disputes to those arising from different U.S.-EU views on data privacy and climate change. And while some in the EU are concerned that the U.S. “pivot” toward Asia could ultimately weaken U.S.-EU ties, U.S. officials worry that the ongoing Eurozone crisis could adversely affect the U.S. economic recovery.

This report serves as a primer on the EU and provides a brief description of U.S.-EU relations that may be of interest in the 113
th Congress. For more information, also see CRS Report RS22163, The United States and Europe: Current Issues, by Derek E. Mix.


Date of Report: January 16, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RS21372
Price: $29.95

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