The European Commission announced that recommends the opening of EU accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This will be an issue that heads of state and government will discuss at the next European Council on 21 and 22 March.

“Since we granted candidate country status, Bosnia and Herzegovina has made impressive strides forward. More progress has been made in just over a year than in an entire decade. Of course more progress is needed to join the Union, but the country is showing that it can fulfill the membership criteria and the aspirations of its citizens to be part of our family. This is why we propose to the Council to start accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina”said the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

According to the Commission, Bosnia and Herzegovina has achieved the necessary level of compliance with the accession criteria. Specifically, it points out that the country “has achieved and maintains full alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is an important positive step and crucial in these times of geopolitical turmoil.”

It is also noted that Bosnia-Herzegovina has shown a strong commitment to moving forward with long-overdue reforms, such as the adoption of the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest and the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism . The Commission also emphasizes that the country has taken important steps to improve the judicial and prosecutorial system, fight corruption, organized crime and terrorism and to improve the management of immigration, by approving a mandate to negotiate an agreement on the status of Frontex.

The Commission therefore recommends that the Council open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, the Commission recommends that the Council approve the negotiating framework once Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken further steps in line with the Commission’s report. The Commission is ready to report to the Council on the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to these steps.

It is recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina has been in the anteroom of the EU since February 2016, when it applied to become an EU member state. The European Council granted it the status of a candidate country in December 2022. One year later, in December 2023, Member States decided to follow the Commission’s recommendations, which advocated starting negotiations with Sarajevo “after the necessary degree of compliance with the accession criteria has been achieved”.

It is now up to the member states to reach an agreement to officially start negotiations. The issue will be on the agenda of the next European Council.