The road to EU/EMU Membership 1/3 • According to Article 49 (Treaty on EU) any European state can apply for the full membership to the EU. In order to join the EU, any European state has to previously fulfill a number of conditions. Those criteria were established at the meeting of the European Council in Copenhagen in June 1993. The most important are the following: establishing the rule of law and democracy, functioning of institutions in charge of human rights and rights of minorities. With purpose of preparing for a strong competiton after joining the EU, the state has to strengthen the functioning of its market economy and confirm the ability for implementation of political, economical and monetary tasks brought by the EU membership. • Negotiations on accession are about the conditions under which a candidate country enters the EU and its Treaties. Once the negotiations are terminated, the conditions are defined by an agreement between the candidate country and the EU member countries – the Treaty of Accession. • The Treaty of Accession is an international legal document that has to be ratified by all of the EU Member States.
The road to EU/EMU Membership 2/3 • The accession process begins with the membership application to the EU. Although the EU Treaty does not anticipate it, the Western Balkans countries can apply for membership only after the SAA is approved by the relevant authorities of the EU. Signing the SAA means the country becomes a potential candidate and the ratification process in the EU member countries starts. The negotiations on the full membership cannot start till the ratification process is completed. Meanwhile the Interim Agreement is enforced. • When Bosnia and Herzegovina formally applies for membership, it will receive a Questionnaire from the European Coimmission. On the basis of the provided answers, the Commission will prepare an opinion (avis) on the country’s readiness. If “avis“ is positive, Bosnia and Herzegovina will receive a candidate status and later on the date for opening negotiations on the accession. Receiving a candidate status does not automatically mean the start of negotiations.
The road to EU/EMU Membership 3/3 • Generally, the negotiating process begins with the analytical examination and assessment of compliance of national legislation of the candidate country with the acquis of the European Union, also called “screening“. After the end of the analytical review, the decision on opening negotiations in the particular chapter, depending on the assessment of the candidate country’s readiness, is made by member countries within the Council of the European Union. Opening negotations on the particular chapter means the begining of the phase in which the conditions under which the candidate country will accept, apply and implement the acquis of the European Union in the chapter are negotatiated, including the transitory periods which might be asked for during the negotiatons. After the agreement is reached between the EU and candidate country on a particular chapter of negotations, it is considered temporarily closed if the conditions for its closing are met. The negotiations cover 35 (or more) chapters of the acquis communautaire. Each country separately negotiates particular chapters of the acquis with the EU. The candidate countries are obliged to respect, adopt and implement the acquis. Negotations are based on the principle that each candidate country has to adopt the overall existing rules and legislation. There are no negotiations on the contents of the acquis. The European Council can postpone the start of negotiations by imposing new benchmarks which have to be fulfilled in order to open negotiations.