The European Union’s 28 member states yesterday (20 September) accepted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership application and ordered the Commission to prepare an assessment of the Balkan country’s readiness to join the bloc.
According to a statement by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU, the EU members welcomed the progress made by the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities in implementing their reform agenda and invited them to continue their efforts to the benefit of their citizens.
This should include socio-economic reforms, reforms in the area of rule of law and public administration.
The formal application for accession was made on 15 February by the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dragan Čović. Tabling the application opens a long process of assessment and of decision making in granting candidate status, followed by a new decision-making to open accession negotiation.
The EU has in the past discouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina from tabling a membership application, over doubts that the ethnic communities in the country can commit to living together.
Ivan Korčok, acting as President of the General Affairs Council, said:
“Credible enlargement policy is one of the top priorities of the Presidency and I am glad that we are delivering. Enlargement is an indispensable tool at our disposal to promote democracy, stability and prosperity in our neighbourhood. And if a country delivers, the EU should deliver, too.”
Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić said the acceptance of the country’s application constituted a “historic moment for the European path and European future of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
“This is really some of the most positive news for Bosnia-Herzegovina … especially for young people,” he said.
There remains only one Western Balkans’ country that has not submitted a EU membership application. But it would be certainly more difficult for Kosovo to move forward, as the former Serbian province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008 is not recognised by Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Romania and Cyprus.