BRUSSELS — The EU General Affairs Council approved during the meeting on 13 December the proposal to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The decision is now to be confirmed by the EU27 leaders in the European Council summit, scheduled for 15 December.
According to Radio Free Europe, who had insight into the summit’s conclusions, the document stated that “in the current geopolitical context, the Council underlines the urgency for the country to move forward on its EU path, in particular via fulfilling all 14 key priorities for the opening of EU accession negotiations identified in the Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership as endorsed by the Council in 2019.”
Austrian Minister for the EU Karoline Edtstadler announced the news on Twitter, stating her content with the General Affairs Council’s decition.
I am pleased that at the General Affairs Council today we agreed to grant Bosnia & Herzegovina EU candidate status. This sends a strong signal to the Western Balkan region and above all, to the citizens of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
— Karoline Edtstadler (@k_edtstadler) December 13, 2022
Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bisera Turković said that the candidate status represents encouragement and recognition for the country’s efforts in fulfilling necessary requirements.
“Despite all the problems, we are ending this mandate with a huge, historic step towards EU membership. For the country, this will mean the opening of new channels of cooperation with the EU, new financial funds and investments,” Turković wrote on Twitter.
As Euronews writes, the decision to grant the candidate status is “largely symbolic” as it’s approval does not imply immediate start of negotiation process. Nevertheless, it presents encouragement for Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue on its EU path. Bosnia and Herzegovina started its path towards European integration in 2016, while in 2019 it received endorsement by the European Commission with a condition of addressing 14 key priorities before being granted the candidate status.
In its progress report published in October, the Commission proposed granting the candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina, should the country fulfill 8 conditions related to judiciary reform, fight against corruption, human rights and media freedom.
In a recently adopted resolution on new enlargement strategy, Members of the European Parliament called for support to Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing the 14 key priorities and granting the candidate status to the country “upon its satisfactory implementation of the substantial set of reforms, as a clear message of support and unequivocal commitment to its European perspective as well as a step towards the stabilisation of the country and the region.”