Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU perspective

01.09.2016 - Article

Like all other countries in the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina also has a prospect of joining the European Union – as was expressly stated by the European Council in 2003.

Like all the other countries of the Western Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina was offered the prospect of joining the European Union – as was expressly stated by the European Council in Thessaloniki in 2003. In December 2014, the EU adopted a renewed approach aimed at drawing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to the EU, which injected new momentum into the EU project.

Sarajevo© picture alliance / dpa

Bosnia and Herzegovina has “potential accession candidate” status. The country applied for membership of the European Union on 15 February 2016. To date, the EU Commission has not commented on this application. Through the Stabilisation and Association Process, the EU is providing Bosnia and Herzegovina with support as the country moves closer to European structures.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s pre-accession process grinded to a lengthy halt in 2014. In the light of this, the EU decided on 16 December 2014 to restructure the process. The aim was to revitalise domestic reforms. As well as initially focusing strongly on socio-economic reforms, the country’s institutions at all levels of government were to be made more effective in the course of the pre-accession process. A new timetable was drawn up for existing demands in order to inject new impetus into the process and thus also encourage the domestic reform process.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leadership, as well as its Parliament, committed themselves irrevocably in writing to reforms in line with the new EU approach on 23 February 2015. In return, the EU put the Stabilisation and Association Agreement into force as of 1 June 2015. In late July 2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leadership, in coordination with the EU and the international financial institutions, adopted an initial reform agenda which focused mainly on socio-economic issues. This reform agenda is still being implemented.

European support for reforms

A bazaar in Sarajevo
A bazaar in Sarajevo© picture alliance / dpa

Since 2007, Bosnia and Herzegovina has received financial support under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). It has thus been able to call on a total of around 166 million euros for the 2014-2017 period. The measures financed concern, first and foremost, the promotion of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights, protection of the environment and climate change mitigation, improved transport infrastructure, competitiveness, as well as education, employment and social policies. The measures for Bosnia and Herzegovina financed from IPA funds until 2017 are described in the Indicative Strategy Paper of 15 December 2014. Through its Special Representative, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark (who took up office on 1 April 2015), the European Union provides support for Bosnia and Herzegovina as it undertakes necessary reforms in the ongoing pre-accession process. He is also head of the EU delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More information on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards the EU can be found on the European Commission website

The European Commission’s Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, 10 November 2015 PDF / 561 KB

Council conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process, General Affairs Council meeting, 15.12.2015 PDF / 305 KB

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Brücke in Sarajevo
Brücke in Sarajevo© picture alliance / pixsell

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