EU states tussle over Bosnia membership talks before this week’s summit

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A group of EU countries including Germany on Tuesday pushed for a green light to start membership negotiations with Bosnia, but others such as France seemed reluctant to proceed.

The EU’s 27 leaders will debate at a summit on Thursday a proposal from the bloc’s executive to launch the talks with the Balkan country.

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All member states will have to agree to the move before negotiations can begin.

“We have seen clear progress towards reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past few months and we should honor that as well,” Germany’s European affairs minister Anna Luhrmann said at a pre-summit meeting in Brussels.

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

Balkan country Bosnia has been an official candidate for mem-bership since 2022 but needed to implement a string of major reforms before getting the green light on negotiations to join the EU.

The European Commission last week recommended beginning talks with Bosnia, with the executive’s head Ursula von der Leyen saying the country had made “impressive steps.”

The push to move Bosnia closer to the bloc is backed by a string of countries including Austria, Italy, and Greece.

But some -- including France, the Netherlands, and Denmark -- appear more skeptical.

France’s Europe minister Jean-Noel Barrot said Paris viewed Bosnia’s efforts since becoming a candidate as “too limited.”

“We must continue to encourage the Bosnian leaders to make efforts to achieve the objectives that have been set,” he said at the Brussels meeting.

If Bosnia does get the green light, it will still be at the start of a long process of painstaking reforms that usually last years before a country finally joins the EU.

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

Read more: EU member states agree to give Bosnia EU candidate status, diplomats say

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