Sunday

21st Oct 2018

Bosnia signs EU pre-accession deal

Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a pre-accession deal with the EU on Monday (16 June) in Luxembourg after weeks of delay, with the move representing important progress in the Balkan country's EU integration process.

The EU welcomed the signing of the so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - a pre-accession tool designed as a first step for the Western Balkan towards eventual EU membership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn called it "a milestone that marks a new stage in our relations" and "a gateway for [EU] candidacy".

For his part, Miroslav Lajcak, international High Representative and EU Special Representative in Bosnia, added: "It's certainly a day to remember the same country only 13 years back and also the day to celebrate."

Bosnia and Herzegovina – which has two autonomous regions, the Muslim-Croat federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Serb-inhabited Republika Srpska – was 13 years ago just emerging from the bloody war that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1992 – 1995.

But the signing of the SAA now "opens the door" for the country to join the rest of Europe and "leave the past behind," Bosnia's prime minister Nikola Spiric said.

The EU however added a cautious note with Mr Rehn underlining that there is still "much work to do to implement the agreement" and before thinking about full membership of the 27-nation bloc.

For his part, Mr Lajcak also stressed that the road to EU membership could be long and would depend primarily on Bosnia's efforts.

"The European Union has just offered Bosnia its European perspective. We have entered the process but it's up to Bosnia and Herzegovina how long the process will take and when [it] will be able to be rewarded with membership in the European Union," he said according to Reuters.

Before joining the EU, Sarajevo has been asked, among other things, to increase its political stability, strengthen its institutions, as well as to improve its judicial system and the fight against corruption.

Bosnia is the last country from the Western Balkan region, except for Kosovo, to sign an SAA after the adoption of a controversial police reform by the Bosnian parliament in April – set as a condition by Brussels – cleared the way for this to happen.

The document was not signed in April as initially planned because of technical issues concerning the translation of the lengthy document into the EU's 23, as well as Bosnia's three, official languages.

News in Brief

  1. Germany leads EU criticism of Saudi Arabia
  2. Huge pro-EU march takes place in London
  3. Macedonia MPs back name deal in initial vote
  4. EU to open trade talks with US on beef
  5. EU court orders Poland to suspend firing judges
  6. Japan to focus on circular economy at G20
  7. Italian budget 'significant deviation' from rules, says EU
  8. Podemos initiates debate on legalising marijuana in Spain

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. What Italy's budget row is actually about
  2. EU preparing 'concentration camps' for migrants in Africa
  3. Poland to respect EU injunction on judicial purge
  4. EU votes on Facebook and plastic This WEEK
  5. Top EU banks guilty of multi-billion tax fraud
  6. Polish left a glimmer of hope in fight against illiberal democracy
  7. Europe and Asia seek stable relations in troubled times
  8. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us