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From Diplomacy: A Very Short Introduction

The EU can enact binding laws with regard to welfare provision, human rights, minimum wages, environmental standards, food safety standards, and more. After failing at its formation in 1993 to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the EU has matured as a regional security actor. The EU is moving towards a ‘security community’ in Europe in which the Union, rather than member states acting as sovereign entities, pursues a European foreign policy and increasingly a security role in Europe and Africa.

What is relation between "failing at its formation in 1993" and "dealing with the break up of Yugoslavia" ? i think these two accident happened at same time (?) and author only wanted to give more historic information (?) what do you think as native English speakers?

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  • yorgun. 1. Include your sources. 2. Use formatting to set block quotes apart. 3. There are some non-native speakers here who have studied English extensively and can give excellent answers. See meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/904/… – Adam Mar 31 '16 at 17:28
  • @yorgun: to mark a question as answered, you click on the tick to the left of the answer that you think is best. – JavaLatte Mar 31 '16 at 17:57
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It's a poorly written sentence. But at its formation in 1993 are two prepositional phrases that refer to the EU (which was formed in 1993).

You can delete either or both prepositional phrases and the sentence would still be grammatical.

After failing [at its formation][in 1993] to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the EU has matured as a regional security actor.

One might rewrite the sentence to make it clearer:

After failing in 1993 (the year of its formation) to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, the EU has matured as a regional security actor.

or

(not so good:)

After failing to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1993, the year of its formation, the EU has matured as a regional security actor.

The problem is that the reader can connect the prepositional phrases to Yugoslavia instead of the EU. The author might be trying to pack too much information in one sentence, which can lead to awkward phrasing, such as in the original sentence.

A better way might be to bring the subject of the sentence forward:

Although the EU failed in 1993, the year of its formation, to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, it has (since) matured as a regional security actor.

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    I don't think it's really fair to say it's a "poorly-written" sentence. It's aimed at native speakers, not people learning the language. Come to that, it's aimed at relatively linguistically competent / literate readers - it's not the register of the Sun, or the Mirror, for example. – FumbleFingers Mar 31 '16 at 17:58
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The "at it's formation in 1993" gives a timeframe of the failure.

Another way to write it would have been:

"When it was formed in 1993, it failed to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia."

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  • thanks to all. how can i close this question as Answered? – yorgun Mar 31 '16 at 17:36
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i think this is good answer: Although the EU failed in 1993 (the year of its formation) to deal effectively with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, it has (since) matured as a regional security actor. (1993 refers to both: 1-year od EU formation & 2-year of Yugoslavia break-up)

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