About the European Union

Briefly about the European Union

The EU consists of its member states — 27 countries that belong to the Union — and their citizens. A unique characteristic of the EU is that all those countries are sovereign, independent countries that joined parts of their “sovereignties” to attain power and advantages associated with magnitude. In practice, joining sovereignties means that the member states transfer a part of their decision-making competencies to common institutions they formed so that decisions on special issues of common interest could be made democratically at the EU level. Thus, the EU system is somewhere between a completely federal system that exists in the US, and the system of intergovernmental cooperation that exists in the United Nations.

The EU has seen significant progress since its foundation in 1950. It has created a single market of products and services that spreads across 27 member states with over 447 million citizens that can move freely and live wherever they want. It has created a single currency — Euro — which became one of the main world currencies, making the single market even more effective. The EU is the largest donor of development and humanitarian aid programs in the world. Those are only some of its achievements so far. The EU’s future plans include leading Europe out of the existing economic crisis. The EU is the leader in the fight against climate change and its consequences. Since its plan is to keep growing, it helps its neighbouring countries get prepared for the membership in the EU and builds a common foreign policy that will contribute to spreading European values in the world.

History of EU Treaties

In 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed an integration of coal and steel industries of Western Europe and the following year his ideas were built into the Paris Treaty, creating the predecessor of the EU – the European Coal and Steel Community. Since then the EU regularly updated and expanded the treaties aimed at ensuring effective policies and decision-making:

  • Treaty of Paris, establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, was signed in Paris on 18 April 1951 and it entered into force in 1952. It expired in 2002.
  • Treaties of Rome, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), were signed in Rome on 25 March 1957 and they entered into force in 1958.
  • Single European Act(SEA) was signed in February 1986 and it entered into force in 1987. It amended the EEC Treaty and opened the road for establishing the single market.
  • Treaty on the European Union— Maastricht Treaty— was signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1992 and it entered into force in 1993. It established the European Union, its Parliament was granted larger authorities in the decision-making process and new areas of cooperation were added.
  • Treatyof Amsterdam was signed on 2 October 1997 and it entered into force in 1999. It amended the previous treaties.
  • Treatyof Nice was signed on 26 February 2001 and it entered into force in 2003. It reorganised the institutional system of the EU so as to preserve its efficiency after the new wave of enlargement in 2004.
  • Treatyof Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007 and it entered into force in 2009. It simplified the methods of work and voting rules, created the institution of the European Council President and introduced new structures to make the EU a stronger factor at the global level.

Key events in the relationship between Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union:

  • 1997 – The Council of Ministers of the European Union sets up the policies and economic requirements for the development of bilateral relations. Bosnia-Herzegovina is offered the possibility to use autonomous trading benefits.
  • 1998 – Establishment of the EU-BiH Consultative Task Force (CTF), which provides technical and expert assistance in the area of administration, regulatory framework and policy.
  • May 1999 – The Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) starts. The SAP offers a clear possibility of integration to Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as other five countries of the region of Western Balkans in the EU.
  • June 1999 – Activities of the Southeast Europe Stability Pact were initiated, whose strategic goal is stabilisation in Southeast Europe by bringing the countries of the region closer to Euro-Atlantic integration processes and strengthening regional cooperation. In July 1999 the summit of heads of states and governments of Europe, Canada, Japan and US was held in Sarajevo, which supported and formalised the foundation of the Southeast Europe Stability Pact.
  • March 2000 – The EU Road Map was published. This document defined 18 key requirements that Bosnia-Herzegovina needed to meet in order to produce the Feasibility Study for starting negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).
  • 2000 – Customs-free regime was introduced for the entry of products from Bosnia-Herzegovina to the EU internal market (Autonomous Trade Measure – ATM).
  • December 2000 – The EU Council adopted its Directive 2666/2000 on the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation program (CARDS). The CARDS was the EU’s technical assistance program for the reconstruction, development and stabilisation, intended for Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
  • March 2003 – Work on the Feasibility Study starts. The European Commission submits a questionnaire to the BiH Council of Ministers, consisting of 346 questions covering the area of economic and political organisation of BiH and other areas relevant for the conclusion of the SAA.
  • November 2003 – The European Commission adopted its assessment of the Feasibility Study. The Study identified 16 priority areas in which essential reform progress is required in order for the European Commission to recommend to the EU Council to start negotiations on SAA with BiH.
  • March 2004 – The EU Council adopted the first European Partnership with BiH.
  • November 2005 – SAA negotiations were officially initiated in Sarajevo on 25 November.
  • January 2006 – The first plenary round of negotiations on SAA was held between the EU and BiH as well as the first Reform Process Monitoring (RPM) plenary meeting, which replaces the Consultative Task Force; the EU Council adopted the second European Partnership with BiH.
  • January 2007 – The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) was established, intended for all pre-accession activities and funded by the EU.
  • February 2008 – The EU Council adopted the third European Partnership with BiH.
  • November 2007: Technical negotiations on SAA were completed; its initialling and signing depend on meeting the political requirements.
  • 4 December 2007 – The SAA was initialled.
  • February 2008 – Framework Agreement on Rules of Cooperation for Implementation of Financial Support of EC to BiH within the IPA established.
  • June 2008 – The SAA was signed on 16 June.
  • 1 July 2008 – The Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-Related Issues entered into force.
  • November 2008 – The first meeting of the Provisional Committee for Stabilisation and Association was held, as the highest body within the SAP, whose main task (together with 6 provisional sub-committees) was to monitor the meeting of requirements set by the Interim Agreement.
  • June 2011 – The first meeting of the Structural Dialogue on Judiciary between BiH and EU held.
  • 27 June 2012 – The first meeting of the High Level Dialogue on the Accession Process of BiH held, and the Road Map for BiH’s membership in the EU handed in. The second meeting was held in November 2012.
  • 1 July 2013– The Republic of Croatia becomes the 28th member of the EU, and for the first time BiH shares a border with one EU member country.
  • January 2014– The EU established a new Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance, IPA II, for the period 2014 – 2020.
  • 1 June 2015 – The SAA between the EU and BiH enters into force.
  • 15 February 2016 –In accordance with Article 49 of the EU Treaty, in the course of the Dutch presidency in the EU Council, BiH filed a formal request for membership in the EU.
  • 20 September 2016 – The EU Council invited the European Committee to prepare its opinion on BiH’s request for membership in the EU.
  • 3 December 2016 – The EC hands in its Questionnaire
  • 6 February 2018 – The Strategy for Western Balkans is adopted.
  • 28 February 2018 – BiH submits its responses to the Questionnaire.

The European Commission adopted its strategy for A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans, asserting the European future of the region as a geostrategic investment in the stable, strong and united Europe, based on common values. It sets forth priorities and areas that require enhanced mutual cooperation as well as special challenges that the Western Balkans faces, in particular the need for in-depth reforms and good neighbourly relations.

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