The Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Covic, submitted in Brussels on Monday his country's application for EU membership to the representative of the EU chair, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders.
European Commission Vice-President and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that the EU would analyse the application and that it was good news both for Bosnia and Herzegovina and for the EU.
This is good for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a civil society that has great expectations of this process, and we in the EU, too, have reason to celebrate, she said.
She recalled that a year ago, in December 2014, when she visited Sarajevo with Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, the country was entirely under the radar, without any possibility for today's step. A lot has been done in recent months, and a lot more remains to be done, she said.
Hahn said that the application was just the beginning of a long journey which should result in Bosnia and Herzegovina's membership in the EU but that until then, a lot of work remained to be done.
The European Council will now ask the EC to make an avis (opinion) of the application, which can last up to two years.
The first step in that process is a questionnaire which the EC sends the applicant, containing several thousand questions related to the basic information on the country, its political and legal system, economic potential, population structure, and the degree to which it is aligned with European legislation.
Answering those questions was a routine procedure for most countries, however, for a dysfunctional country such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, this can pose a problem already when it comes to the question of the population size and structure because the results of the population census conducted in October 2013 have not been published yet.
The EC will assess in its opinion whether Bosnia and Herzegovina can be given candidate status and which conditions it has to meet for that to happen. After that, member-countries are to decide, first on candidate status and later on a date for the start of the country's EU entry talks.