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EU leaders agree to open membership talks with Bosnia

EU leaders have agreed to open talks with Bosnia on joining the bloc, though negotiations will only begin in earnest once the Balkan country has passed more key reforms.

“Congratulations! Your place is in our European family. Today’s decision is a key step forward on your EU path,” European Council head Charles Michel wrote on X, as leaders met at a Brussels summit.

“Now the hard work needs to continue so Bosnia and Herzegovina steadily advances, as your people want.”

Bosnia has been an official candidate for membership since 2022 but needed to implement a string of reforms before getting the green light on progressing to the next stage.

Brussels last week said the country had completed some of the steps required, but outstanding judicial and electoral reforms remain.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has reinvigorated the EU’s drive to enlarge in eastern and central Europe, with its current member states agreeing in December to start talks on joining with Ukraine and Moldova.

Opening negotiations would only put Bosnia at the start of a long process of further painstaking reforms that usually last for many years before a country finally joins the EU.

Bosnia’s regional neighbours North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania are already ahead in their efforts to join, but all remain far from membership.

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