Home Human Rights Goal 2030 in Bosnia and Herzegovina: a complex political reality makes the journey to the EU difficult

Goal 2030 in Bosnia and Herzegovina: a complex political reality makes the journey to the EU difficult

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The 2030 target for Western Balkan countries to join the EU could be a welcome boost to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU accession process, but the problem of constitutional change and lack of consensus policy needed to take further steps towards opening negotiations with the EU could hamper this objective. ambition.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has called for an accelerated timetable for the accession of candidate countries to the EU. “Enlargement is no longer a dream,” he declared at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia, where the region’s leaders gathered. According to Michel, it is time to move forward.

“There is still a lot of work to do. It is going to be difficult. I believe we must be ready – on both sides – to expand by 2030,” Michel said, adding that enlargement is always and will remain a merit-based process, which means meeting state criteria. of law, implement European economic standards and align with European economic standards. Brussels on foreign policy.

Five Western Balkan countries hold candidate status, but the accession process has been stalled for several years. One of them is Bosnia and Herzegovina. After Russian aggression, the EU granted candidate country status to Moldova and Ukraine, as well as to Bosnia and Herzegovina in December 2022. The next goal of the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities is to open negotiations.

The European Commission will publish progress reports on Bosnia and Herzegovina and other Western Balkan countries in October. According to the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are waiting for a positive assessment and recommendation from the European Commission for the opening of negotiations.

Leaders of parties constituting the ruling majority at the state level reached an agreement after a meeting in East Sarajevo on August 22 to introduce three bills into the parliamentary procedure linked to the EU accession process .

Edin Dilberovicdirector of the Directorate for European Integration in Bosnia and Herzegovina, says that over the past months it has been seen that the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina have worked diligently and achieved concrete results.

“Several laws have been passed, representing important steps towards achieving digital priorities. Among other things, the High Judicial and Prosecuting Council (HJPC) Amendment Act, the first of four laws related to the rule of law, was adopted. In addition, the Law on Amendments to the Law on the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Law on Free Access to Information and others were adopted. Furthermore, important steps have been taken to advance Bosnia and Herzegovina in public administration reform, migration and asylum management, combating organized crime, etc. “, explains Dilberović.

Damir Kapidžić, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo and member of the Balkans in Europe Political Advisory Group (BiEPAG), declares for ISF that the opening of negotiations could be a strong incentive for cooperation between members of the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Such an agreement, whatever its nature and the issues it concerns, signals the presence of a ruling majority ready to cooperate and make concessions. This can be to open negotiations but also for any other purpose. If there are concrete and strong incentives for such cooperation, such as opening negotiations, it will be easier to achieve,” says Kapidžić.

Photo: Twitter / Milorad Dodik

Surprisingly conciliatory tones from the leaders of the political parties forming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ruling coalition came after months of mutual accusations of undermining the constitutional order and breaking coalition agreements. The immediate trigger was attempts by the President of Republika Srpska to undermine the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the authority of the High Representative, Christian Schmidt, by enacting special laws in the RS parliament.

What are the main obstacles on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path?

For EU accession negotiations to begin, Bosnia and Herzegovina must implement 14 key priorities outlined in the European Commission’s May 2019 opinion on its EU membership application. These priorities encompass areas such as democracy and the functioning of the state, the rule of law, fundamental rights and public administration reform.

Nedim Hogicresearcher at the Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies, declares for ISF that there are two fundamental obstacles on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path.

“The first is the lack of consensus among key political actors on how to implement the remaining priorities. The second concerns divisions between external actors over whether Bosnia and Herzegovina is ready to open negotiations and what level of constitutional reforms it should or should not undertake,” believes Hogić.

According to him, these different views among national actors are reflected in the international sphere, making it difficult for Bosnia and Herzegovina to obtain clear criteria that would define the country’s next steps.

“This is particularly evident in the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and in the issue of state property, where there are many divergent concepts that are not harmonized,” added Hogić .

Damir Kapidžić emphasizes that the obstacles revolve around political effectiveness and political institutions.

“These are not problems linked to the institutions themselves or their decision-making procedures, but rather to political actors (parties, representatives, etc.) who do not consider dialogue and compromise as conditions essential prerequisites for the political decision-making process”, believes Kapičić.

Unlike Kapidžić and Hogić, Director of the Directorate of European Integration in Bosnia and Herzegovina Dilberović claims that in the EU integration process they prefer to talk about the challenges for which it is necessary to find solutions appropriate rather than obstacles.

“For the politics and institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is currently crucial to continue the positive trend regarding progress in the implementation of the 14 key priorities. First of all, it is necessary to adopt the Law on Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest at the state level, and to finalize the process of developing and adopting the program for the integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU… It is necessary It is also essential to ensure that everything that has been adopted is implemented and applied, because this is something that the European Commission also monitors and evaluates “, says Dilberović.

He emphasizes that to open accession negotiations, the first step is achieving concrete results in the implementation of 14 key priorities, and the second is a unanimous political decision of the 27 EU member states.

“It is up to the authorities and institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to concentrate on their part of the job, that is, to adopt and implement as many regulations and other concrete acts as possible, because Concrete results constitute the best argument for moving to the next phase of the process. process,” concluded Dilberović.


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