The Council adopted on 21 April a decision concluding the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It is expected that the Agreement would enter into force on 1 June 2015.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement constitutes the framework of relations between the European Union and BiH. The agreement establishes gradually a free trade area between the EU and the country. It also identifies common political and economic objectives and encourages regional co-operation. In the context of accession to the European Union, the agreement serves as the basis for implementation of the accession process.
The decision will allow BiH to move forward in its relations with the EU and it should provide a positive stimulus to continue socio-economic, judicial, and other necessary reforms for the EU integration of the country. The overall aim is to allow BiH to prepare itself for future EU membership.
The EU has called on BiH to remain engaged and maintain the current positive momentum by developing, in consultation with the EU, an initial agenda for reforms with a focus on issues of direct concern to citizens. This initial agenda should include relevant reforms in the areas of economy, rule of law and good governance, and should address functionality issues, including an effective coordination mechanism on EU matters. The EU underlines the importance of engagement with civil society throughout this process. Meaningful progress in implementation of this reform agenda is necessary for a membership application to be considered by the EU.
In its conclusions of 16 March 2015 the Council welcomed the adoption of the Written Commitment by the BiH Presidency on 29 January 2015 and its subsequent endorsement by the BiH Parliament on 23 February 2015. Taking into account its conclusions of 15 December 2014, linking the conclusion of the SAA to the Written Commitment by the BiH political leadership to reforms and progress on the EU path, the Council noted that the necessary conditions had been met and agreed to proceed with the conclusion and entry into force of the SAA with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised as a potential candidate country EU accession in 2003 and signed its SAA with the EU on 16 June 2008 in Luxembourg.