The executive arm of the European Union will recommend that member countries open accession negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, as announced today by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, before the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (France).

“The message coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina is clear, so our message must be clear too: the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the EU,” he said.

The Western Balkan country is among six nations – along with Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia – that are at different stages of the EU accession process after having overcome a long and bloody period of wars. and crisis in the 90s.

Its memberships have been stagnant for years. But after Russia’s war against Ukraine, EU officials are more interested in trying to distance themselves from Russian influence.

In December, EU heads of state and government had agreed that negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina would be opened “once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved.”

For candidates to join the EU, they have to go through a long process to align their laws and standards with those of the bloc and demonstrate that their institutions and economies meet democratic standards. Bosnia is perhaps the most fragile of the Balkan countries.

Ethnic tensions have persisted there, long after the end of the 1992-95 inter-ethnic war in which more than 100,000 people died and millions were displaced and refugees.

Von der Leyen acknowledged that the EU has changed its approach towards the Western Balkans and that, instead of waiting for them and “saying the door is open”, she now wants to “take responsibility and support their path to the EU in any way possible.” .

For Von der Leyen, although Bosnia needs to make even more progress before becoming an EU Member State, it “is demonstrating that it can meet the community criteria” and the aspirations of its citizens to be part of the European family.

“Of course, further progress is needed to join our Union,” von der Leyen said. “But the country is demonstrating that it can meet the membership criteria and the aspiration of its citizens to be part of our family. “The message coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina is clear. So our message must be too.

“More progress has been made in just over a year than in a decade,” stressed Von der Leyen, who explained that Bosnia is now “fully aligned” with the EU’s foreign and security policy and is processing laws such as the to prevent conflicts of interest, against money laundering or to combat the financing of terrorism.

The president of the Commission has also indicated that they have improved their management of migratory flows, they are going to include the sentences of the International Criminal Court in their domestic criminal records and they have launched a commission to continue working for peace.