According to the draft conclusions that will be discussed by the EU Council on December 15, Bosnia and Herzegovina should be granted EU candidate status.
Following the European Council Conclusions of 23-24 June 2022, and in light of the Commission's subsequent recommendation of 12 October 2022, the Council recommends granting the status of candidate country to Bosnia and Herzegovina, subject to confirmation by the European Council, on the understanding that the steps specified in the Commission’s recommendation are taken,” reads the proposal, Politicki.ba reported.
The draft calls on BiH to “strengthen the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime, migration management and fundamental rights”.
“In the current geopolitical context, the Council underlines the urgency for the country to move forward on its EU path, in particular via fulfilling all 14 key priorities for the opening of EU accession negotiations identified in the Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina's application for EU membership as endorsed by the Council in 2019. The Council also calls on all political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to swiftly implement the commitments set out in the agreement reached on 12 June 2022 and urgently finalise the constitutional and electoral reform in line with the key priorities,” it says.
The draft says the Council welcomes the holding of general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 2 October 2022, which were, according to the preliminary findings and conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, “overall competitive and well organised but marked by mistrust in public institutions and ethnically divisive rhetoric.”
“The EU expects functioning legislatures and governments to be swiftly set up at State, entity and cantonal level to focus on reforms on the EU path. The Council further reiterates its unequivocal commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country,” says the document.
The Council also urges all political actors in BiH 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.”
“The Council notes with concern the overall limited progress in reforms, however it welcomes the recent steps taken, including: the adoption of amendments to the public procurement law, adoption of the comprehensive strategy on public financial management by all levels of government, the appointment of four missing judges to the Constitutional Court of the Federation entity, the ratification of several agreements, including on Horizon and Creative Europe programmes, and the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, as well as progress in the operationalisation of the cooperation with EUROPOL and the adoption of the counterterrorism strategy,” the document says.
It calls on BiH to undertake further constitutional and electoral reforms to ensure equality and non-discrimination of all citizens, notably by implementing rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, and reiterates its call for an inclusive process of limited constitutional and electoral reforms, “through genuine dialogue and in line with European standards to eliminate all forms of inequality and discrimination in the electoral process.”
The document expresses concern about the “lack of progress”, but also encourages BiH to address the reforms aiming to improve the country’s legislative and institutional framework to comply with the requirements of EU membership, including by developing and adopting a national programme for the adoption of the EU acquis.