Following today’s positive decision of the General Affairs Council to ask the European Commission to submit its opinion on the application of Bosnia and Herzegovina for membership of the EU, the Head of the EU Delegation and the EU Special Representative in BiH, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, made the following statement:
“In the past months, we have witnessed substantial progress in the country’s efforts to move closer to the European Union, and today’s Council decision marks a major milestone for the European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It follows the hard work of the country’s leadership at all levels demonstrating their commitment to the reforms. Most importantly the decision today is an answer to citizens’ demands for change and moving closer to the European Union.
This decision marks the beginning of a process where BiH is striving to catch up with its neighbours in the region who are already candidates for EU membership. The European Commission will now start assessing in detail the state of play in a variety of fields and sectors in BiH. This will lead to the formulation of an opinion on the readiness of BiH to move forward in the accession process towards candidate country status and eventually open accession negotiations. It is too early to speculate how long this will take.
In the meantime, BiH must not lose the focus. The reforms improving economic growth and social justice, rule of law and public administration need to continue, and leaders and authorities in BiH should address them constructively and through dialogue.
The Reform Agenda shows great promise but the momentum needs to be maintained. The pace and effectiveness of reforms to advance the EU integration will ultimately define the accession process. Effective coordination and cooperation among competent authorities at all levels of government will be increasingly necessary to ensure that the process advances. Only through joint efforts, including dialogue, can the country move forward on its path to the European Union.
The EU stands ready to assist BiH in the firm belief that our joint journey will bring real improvements to the lives of this country’s citizens.”