Bosnian government makes push to adopt laws needed to unblock EU membership talks

Bosnian government makes push to adopt laws needed to unblock EU membership talks
EU officials warned the government in Sarajevo it has just six weeks to adopt four key laws in order to get a green light for accession talks.
By bne IntelliNews February 11, 2024

The state-level ruling coalition in Bosnia & Herzegovina has agreed to table to parliament four key laws, including one on prevention of money laundering, in an attempt to get a green light for the start of EU membership talks in March, Nermin Niksic, the leader of the Social-Democratic Party (SDP), said on February 9 following a meeting of political leaders.

The decision comes after a warning by Angelina Eichhorst, director general for Europe at the EU External Affairs Service (EEAS), that the country has just six weeks to adopt the four laws in order to get a green light for the membership talks.

The Council of the EU decided not to start membership talks with Bosnia at its session in December, saying that the country should first meet all criteria set as a condition for starting talks.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in January urged Bosnia to unite and move forward with reforms, which can secure the country a shorter path towards EU membership. 

“It seems like there are no spectacular results anytime we meet, but we are getting to agreement step by step,” said Niksic as quoted by N1.

He added that all political leaders have agreed it was important to meet the conditions for the opening of the accession talks with the European Union.

He said that the political leaders agreed they would insist on a specific date of the opening of the talks if conditions are met.

The parties forming the ruling coalition will set up three task groups that will work on the legislation concerning conflicts of interests, the election law and the law on courts.

Milorad Dodik, the secessionist leader of the main Serb SNSD party, said that his party supports Bosnia's EU path but that this will not happen if the international peace envoy, High Representative Christian Schmidt imposes changes to the electoral law.

The law on money laundering has already been agreed between the ruling parties.

Meanwhile, Bosnia’s state-level tripartite presidency gave a green light for the proposed task group in charge of negotiations with Frontex and the framework for the talks. Starting talks with Frontex is among the requirements the country should meet to start EU membership negotiations.

The EU office in Sarajevo welcomed the decision. “This is an important step and one of the priorities before the European Council in March. Greater cooperation on border management is in the interests of both EU and BiH,” it said on X platform.