EU membership Bosnia's strategic goal, Presidency tells Quint and EU ambassadors

Source: Predsjedništvo BiH

Membership in the European Union is Bosnia's strategic foreign policy goal and priority, Bosnia's tripartite Presidency said on Tuesday in a meeting with the ambassadors of the Quint countries and the European Union (EU) ambassador in Sarajevo.

The Presidency informed the ambassadors about a conclusion it adopted, which refers to the implementation of 14 priorities set in the European Commission's Opinion on Bosnia's membership application.

“This is a great moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina on our road to the European Union. With these conclusions, we opened new space for the continuation of Bosnia and Herzegovina's integration into the European Union, in a way that 14 priorities from the European Commission's Opinion will be implemented in a faster and more efficient way through institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Croatia Presidency member Zeljko Komsic said following the meeting.

He is convinced Bosnia is able to respond to the requirements set by the European Commission in the upcoming years, which will bring the country to a new stage towards the EU candidate status.

Johann Sattler, the Head of the EU Delegation in Bosnia, welcomed the Presidency's decision to form a political ad-hoc group that would be in charge of managing the processes in the country and reaching a consensus in terms of Bosnia's road to the EU.

The group will consist of the three Presidency members, Chairman of the Council of Ministers and two deputies, as well as the Speakers of Bosnia's House of Peoples and House of Representatives and their deputies.

The Presidency's decision comes days before the EU-Western Balkans summit, set to take place in Zagreb on May 6 in an online form.

This is a chance for Bosnian leaders to go to this meeting prepared, said Sattler.

Bosnia formally applied for EU membership in February 2016 and was to provide answers to 3,242 questions of the EC's Questionnaire within six months as a part of a regular procedure of obtaining the Commission's opinion on its possible candidate status.

It took the country a year to provide the initial answers because of internal disagreements that stem from deep political and ethnic divisions.

But once the answers were submitted, Brussels sent another 655 follow-up questions that should clarify certain ambiguities. Those were supposed to be answered by September 2018. The deadline was missed and Bosnia Presidency Chairman submitted the final answers in early March 2019.

Although Bosnian officials expected the Commission to give a positive opinion on the membership application, the EU's principal executive body said on May 29 last year that the country still does not sufficiently meet the accession criteria set by the Copenhagen meeting of the European Council from 1993.

The Commission identified 14 crucial priorities lying ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina that the authorities are supposed to meet in order to advance on the EU path.