Brussels backs Bosnia for EU candidate status

BRUSSELS: The European Commission said Wednesday (October 12th) that it recommends EU countries grant Bosnia candidate status to join the bloc.

“The Commission recommends that Bosnia and Herzegovina be granted candidate status by the (European) Council, on the understanding that a number of steps are taken,” Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi tweeted after making the announcement. announcement to European legislators.

If the EU, which currently has 27 member countries, adopts the recommendation, Bosnia would join seven other candidate countries: Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Moldova and Ukraine.

The process of joining the European Union can take many years as candidates implement reforms that must be rigorously assessed by Brussels. It can also stop, which is the case of the Turkish candidacy.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told EU ambassadors: “Today we have offered to grant candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But she added: “It is of course up to the candidate countries to reform their economies and their institutions and move towards our union.”

The commission said Bosnia needed to make progress on “democracy, the functionality of state institutions, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime”, as well as guaranteeing freedom media and migration management.

The commission will help all candidate countries with their membership bids, von der Leyen said, saying “I think this is Europe’s moment and it’s up to us to seize this moment.”

“The winds of change are blowing through Europe again and we must seize the momentum,” she said.

“The Western Balkans belong to our family and we have to say that very, very clearly.”


Brussels fears that other powers, such as China or Russia, will expand their influence in the Balkans if countries hoping to join the EU are thwarted.

Already, Serbia enjoys comfortable relations and energy ties with Russia, while maintaining visa-free access for citizens of many countries who need European Union visas, some of whom are trying to enter the bloc.

In the case of Bosnia, this country of three million people has been plagued by lingering ethnic divisions since its devastating war three decades ago.

It remains partitioned between a Serbian entity and a Muslim-Croatian federation linked by a weak central government.

It has a dysfunctional administrative system created by the 1995 Dayton Accord which succeeded in ending the conflict in the 1990s but largely failed to provide a framework for the country’s political development.

The main international envoy to Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, welcomed the decision.

“This unanimous message from Brussels is particularly important now, when international law is flouted and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states are challenged or violated,” Schmidt said in a statement.

Regarding Turkey, Varhelyi said that the EU’s annual report on all current candidate countries confirms Ankara’s “negative tendency to move away from the European Union in key areas of fundamental rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary”.

He also noted tensions between Turkey and EU members Greece and Cyprus.

“EU relations with Turkey remain complex,” he told reporters.

On the one hand, he said, Turkey remains a “key partner” on issues such as migration, climate, food security and trade, and has been a valuable interlocutor with Russia as the war in Ukraine continues, including releasing grain deliveries.

“However, it has also decided to intensify its trade and financial relations with Russia and has not aligned itself with the EU restrictive measures. This is a growing cause for concern,” Varhelyi said.