Stage set for accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The EU Commission has recommended opening EU accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country applied to join the EU in 2016 and gained candidate status in December 2022. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Bosnia and Herzegovina had made impressive steps forward since then. The member states will decide on 21 and 22 March whether to accept the recommendation.

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Jutarnji list (HR) /

Time for concrete steps

The EU Commission's recommendation must go beyond mere rhetoric, demands Jutarnji list:

“Bosnia-Herzegovina has taken a historic step on its long, too long road towards the EU. But as historic as this step was, it is a small one. ... The European Council must now make the decision to open formal accession negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina. This will send a message that the change of stance on enlargement is real and not just rhetorical. The enlargement process is not measured in terms of statements. ... Progress in the enlargement process is measured by the granting of candidate status, the initiation of accession talks and the opening and closing of accession chapters.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

EU concessions make sense

Admitting new countries is also a way for the EU to limit unwanted influence, the Kleine Zeitung notes:

“Now it is only Kosovo that must hold out in the status of a 'European potential' candidate. The Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Turkey are stuck in limbo, on completely different levels - ten countries in all. ... Serbia has been an EU negotiating partner for ten years, and now seems to have distanced itself further from the bloc than it was before it applied for membership. ... Russian, Turkish or Chinese islands in the centre of Europe would form a permanent political barrage. ... This will be one of the key criteria for the new parliament and the new commission.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Plenković was right

If Croatian Prime Minister Plenković had listened to President Milanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina would never have got this far, Večernji list points out:

“When the European Council granted Ukraine candidate status in June 2022, President Zoran Milanović from Zagreb told Prime Minister Andrej Plenković in Brussels that he should block the decision on Ukraine if Bosnia and Herzegovina was not also granted candidate status. ... If Croatia had blocked Ukraine's European path it would never have secured the opening of the European path to accession for Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor would it have strengthened its reputation and influence. ... What was completely unimaginable until recently was finalised yesterday in the form of a recommendation by the Commission.”