Bosnia not expected to get green light for EU membership talks at December EU Council

Bosnia not expected to get green light for EU membership talks at December EU Council
Prime Minister Borjana Kristo's government in Sarajevo is trying hard to meet 14 criteria set by the EU in order to get a green light for the start of membership talks.
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia December 14, 2023

Bosnia & Herzegovina is not expected to be approved to start EU accession talks this week, despite calls by MEPs on December 13 for the start of EU accession talks with Bosnia, Ukraine and Moldova in a resolution adopted on December 13.

The EU Council will hold a meeting on December 14-15 when it should decide on the issue, but is not expected to give the go ahead for talks at this stage. Bosnia has not fulfilled 14 key priorities set as a condition to move forward, and there are also concerns in Brussels about the secessionist and pro-Russian politics of Republika Srpska’s ruling SNSD party and the entity’s President Milorad Dodik.

“MEPs welcome the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans and call on EU leaders to also adopt the negotiating framework without delay, once the relevant requirements related to each of the candidate countries are fulfilled in order to start the accession negotiations swiftly,” the European Parliament said in a statement.

“In view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, enlargement has become even more strategically important, and is one of the strongest geopolitical tools at the EU’s disposal, MEPs say, calling it a strategic investment in peace and security, as well as a driver for democracy and European values across the continent,” MEPs noted.

The resolution was adopted by 468 votes in favour, 99 against and 58 abstentions.

The recommendation of the European Parliament regarding Bosnia comes despite criticisms in a resolution adopted during the EU-Western Balkans summit.

“The Council urges all political actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to refrain from and renounce provocative divisive rhetoric and actions, including questioning the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the country, and to end the glorification of convicted war criminals as well as to actively promote reconciliation,” Council of the EU said in a resolution adopted at the start of the summit.

It also strongly criticised Republika Srpska’s latest legislation changes rejecting the authority of the state-level constitutional court and of the international community’s high representative Christian Schmidt.

“The Council emphasises that the sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order, including Constitutional Court decisions, and international personality of Bosnia and Herzegovina need to be respected. Any action against these principles will lead to serious consequences,” the resolution noted.

It criticised the limited progress in reinforcing the rule of law and called on Bosnia a to take decisive steps to tackle corruption and organised crime towards establishing a track record of investigations and convictions, including at high-level.

On the other hand, the resolution praised the reforms efforts of the predominantly pro-Western state-level government of Prime Minister Borjana Kristo that is trying hard to meet all 14 criteria as soon as possible in order to get a green light for the start of membership talks.

“Some important steps and commitments were made towards the fulfilment of the key priorities, despite negative developments in the Republika Srpska entity. The Council encourages further progress needed on reforms. The Council recalls the importance of ensuring full compliance of all adopted laws with the EU acquis and European standards, including Venice Commission recommendations,” the resolution also noted.

Ahead of the start of the summit the President of the EU Council Charles Michel said as quoted by N1 that it is important for the Western Balkan countries not to be forgotten by the EU and to be included gradually in the bloc’s work.