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Bosnia and Herzegovina's Prime Minister Borjana Krišto (L) with European Council President Charles Michel. European Council
EU Enlargement

European leaders open EU membership talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina

In December, MEPs motioned that accession talks with the country should begin.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA are on path to be the newest member state of the European Union after European leaders this evening agreed to being accession talks with the state.

In December, Members of the European Parliament motioned that accession talks with the country, as well as Ukraine and Moldova, should begin after the representatives felt they had moved towards fulfilling the relevant criteria.

The agreement today was welcomed by European Council President Charles Michel after the country had completed some of the steps required, but outstanding judicial and electoral reforms remain.

Michel said on X: “Today’s decision is a key step forward on your EU path. Now the hard work needs to continue so Bosnia and Herzegovina steadily advances, as your people want.”

Other positive messages came from the European Commission, who said the country had taken “impressive steps” towards joining the European Union. “More progress has been achieved in just over a year than in over a decade,” it said.

Launching negotiations only puts Bosnia at the start of a long process of further painstaking reforms that usually last for many years before a country can join the EU.

When voting for enlargement in December, MEPs said they were not in favour of any applications being fast-tracked – adding that if the states fulfil all the criteria, it would prove their consistency and enduring commitment to the EU.

MEPs believed that not fast tracking these applications would ensure that the criteria around democracy, rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities and economic reforms would be adhered to and met.

In the current landscape the MEPs believe all three countries should be able to meet these obligations and criteria by the end of this decade and asked for a roadmap to be drafted along a timeline.

Last week, sources in the European Commission hinted that it would recommend the accession talks with the country to begin. The EU must now outline the relevant steps the country must take.

There are concerns that Hungary’s presidency of the Council of European Union and voting patterns across the bloc will see enlargement strategies scrapped or stalled.

The European Council in December agreed to begin membership negotiations with Ukraine. Research by The Journal and Ireland Thinks found that while the majority of the Irish public welcomed the decision, they did not want to see the application fast-tracked.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2024

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