The EU has promised potential candidate countries the prospect of EU membership once they are ready to take on the political and economic reforms necessary for EU accession. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 are currently the two potential candidates.
The EU is working in Southeast Europe to help the region achieve peace, stability, prosperity, and freedom. Through the Stabilization and Association Process, which includes the prospect of EU membership, the Union is working to strengthen democracy and speed the transition to market economies, while also promoting regional cooperation.
Individual agreements provide a mix of trade concessions and EU economic and technical assistance designed to help the EU’s Balkan neighbors build capacity and adapt to European standards, including the full body of EU laws and policies, as required for eventual EU membership.
The EU is by far the single largest donor of assistance to the Western Balkans as a whole. The EU has provided substantial financial aid and has established numerous security, economic development, and law enforcement programs to help countries in the region rebuild their economies and rejoin the mainstream of European development.
The EU and its Member States also lead on the ground, having committed thousands of troops and military police, the lion’s share of the international force, to peacekeeping and relief missions in the region.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina was identified as a potential candidate for EU membership in June 2003.
Since then, a number of agreements between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina have entered into force – visa facilitation and readmission agreements (2008), Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-related issues (2008). The Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) has been ratified but has not yet entered into force.
Kosovo under UNSCR 1244
The EU has been providing significant support to Kosovo under UNSCR 1244 since 1999, when the UN Security Council authorized a civilian and military presence there under UN authority. EU Member States continue to provide about 75 percent of the forces in the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force.
The European Commission Liaison Office supports the Stabilization and Association Process and helps drive through reforms that strengthen institutions, develop the economy, and adopt European standards.
In 2008 the EU established its largest ever civilian mission in Kosovo—EULEX. This Rule of Law mission helps to develop an independent and multi-ethnic justice system and police and customs service, and to ensure that these institutions are free from political interference and adhere to internationally-recognized standards and best practices.
The EU’s political envoy to Kosovo—the EU Special Representative (EUSR)—promotes overall coordination among the EU presences on the ground by providing political guidance to the Head of the EULEX Rule of Law mission and contributing to the development and consolidation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.
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