Bosnia and Herzegovina applies to join EU

15 Feb 16

Bosnia and Herzegovina has filed its application for European Union membership, indicating that it plans to accelerate the reforms needed for it to join the bloc.

The country’s president, Dragan Covic, submitted the application to the Dutch foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders in Brussels today.

Covic said the application marked an important day for Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Balkan Insight, he said: “[The country] wants to follow its neighbours on the European path. This year we will try to improve our economic and social conditions and be credible on our way to the EU, to which there is no alternative for us.”

European Commission vice president Federica Mogherini and commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations Johannes Hahn, released a joint statement celebrating the country’s application.

“Only twenty years ago, it was in the Balkans where one of the most awful pages in European history was written. Today we celebrate another step towards a united and peaceful continent,” they said.

“And we need unity in challenging times. As some forces across our continent are questioning the very existence of our union, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application shows that the need of a united European continent is still very strong among our peoples.”

Mogherini and Hahn urged the country to seize on its reform momentum and continue improvements to economic growth, social justice, the rule of law and public administration, which are among the changes that will need to be implemented before Bosnia and Herzegovina can join the union.

Previous attempts at reform have been hampered by unresolved tensions from the 1990s conflict, which have Bosnia and Herzegovina divided along ethnic lines.

Bosnia and Herzegovina began securing closer ties with the EU in 2008 when it signed a stabilisation and association agreement with the bloc, providing mechanisms for trade and investment between the country and the union.

Following its application, the country now needs to be granted candidate status after which formal membership negotiations can begin. 

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