BRUSSELS (HPD) — Bosnia and Herzegovina took another small step toward joining the European Union on Wednesday after the EU’s executive arm advised member states to grant it candidate status despite continued criticism over the way the Balkan nation is governed.
The council was highly anticipated in this ethnically divided nation, which lags behind other Balkan countries in gaining candidate status to become a member of Europe’s prosperous 27-nation club.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi told a European Parliament committee during the presentation of the annual enlargement report that the executive “recommends that member states grant candidate status”, pending a series of compromises. for fundamental reform.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, can only advise which nations should become EU candidates, and all member states must unanimously agree to such a decision. Varhelyi said he hoped member states would make a decision quickly — possibly in December — as geopolitical changes in the region triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine make speed essential.
Still, once a country becomes a candidate, it can be years—or even decades—before membership becomes a reality.
Varhelyi warned Bosnian political leaders to move quickly on much-needed reforms.
He added that for the country to become a candidate, Bosnian leaders needed to implement reforms on issues ranging from the judiciary to fighting corruption and promoting constitutional and electoral changes. Little progress has been made on these issues in recent years.
Several Balkan countries and Turkey have been waiting for some two decades to join the EU, and progress has sometimes been slowed down by the objections of a single member country.
Ankara applied for membership in 1987, received candidate status in 1999, and had to wait until 2005 to begin actual entry talks. You are still a long way from being a member.