EU/Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo receives accession road map
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Monday 02 July 2012
The EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have agreed to a road map on the steps to take before the Balkan state can officially apply for EU membership. Following the first high-level dialogue on the country’s accession progress, held in Brussels on 27 June, both sides concluded that while Sarajevo had a clear perspective to become a member of the EU, it still needed to meet certain requirements before it could submit a “credible” membership application.
“The EU wants Bosnia and Herzegovina to become a member state when the necessary conditions are met,” Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle said. “Progress on the EU agenda matters to the people and is expected from the leaders in the country,” he noted, adding that “it is high time for concrete steps to be made”.
A first step – which would lead to the ratification of a stabilisation and association agreement (SAA) with the EU – would be to ensure a political agreement on the Sejdic-Finci ruling and to change the constitution accordingly by November this year. The 2009 Sejdic-Finci ruling by the European Court of Human Rights found that the Bosnian constitution discriminated against citizens based on nationality, following complaints by Jakob Finci and Dervo Sedjic, a Jew and a Roma from BiH, who were stopped from running for high-level government positions. Despite the ruling, Sarajevo’s current constitution still provides that only ethnic Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats can be elected members of BiH presidency and House of Peoples. The ratification of the SAA between the EU and BiH was stopped after the court’s ruling.
“Progress on these issues remains necessary before BiH can expect to progress towards EU accession negotiations,” the high-level dialogue concluded. If requirements stated in the road map are successfully implemented, BiH’s EU membership application could be submitted by the end of 2012.
The European Commission reiterated its readiness to support the country’s EU perspective with expertise and financial assistance.
Road map key dates
By 31 August: Parliamentary proposal to amend BiH constitution to make it compliant with the Sejdic-Finci ruling; needed for Council decision on entry into force of stabilisation and association agreement (SAA)
First half of September: Mid-term review of road map
7 October: Local elections in BiH
10 October: Commission adopts annual progress report on BiH
By 31 October: Reply by BiH to the two lists of sectoral questions handed over on 27 June (Chapters 5 and 27); definition of an efficient EU coordination mechanism
November: Second meeting of high-level dialogue on the accession process
By 30 November: Constitution to be amended to make it compliant with Sejdic-Finci ruling. If SAA enters into force: submission of BiH’s EU membership application