Consensus at 27 to give a sign of support to Bosnia boosted Ukraine’s candidate status


Consensus among EU27 leaders to signal support for the Balkans’ European perspective, in particular a boost to Bosnia and Herzegovina, was key to boosting Ukraine’s candidate status.

The European summit aimed at granting the status of candidate to Ukraine, in addition to Moldova and recognizing the European perspective to Georgia, was marked by the previous meeting with the Balkan leaders in which they publicly showed their discomfort at the lack of progress in their European path in the face of the geopolitical reasons put forward for kyiv.

In the subsequent European Council, the leaders understood that it was necessary to unblock the Balkan issue and show a clear signal of support for the region with the question of opening negotiations with Albania and Macedonia or the visa exemption for Kosovo on the table, in addition to the question of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country whose European path is subject to an agenda of 14 political and democratic reforms set by the European Commission in 2019.

With the idea of ​​reviving the process and encouraging reforms in Bosnia, countries such as Austria, Slovenia or Croatia asked to grant Sarajevo candidate status, in line with the decision of kyiv and Chisinau.

Although European leaders did not go that far, they did agree on an intermediate step for Bosnia to achieve candidate status and that is by advancing the Bosnian cross-party deal facilitated by European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels in early June. Thanks to this intermediate step, in the community capital they want Sarajevo to see the door to Europe closer and reactivate the reform agenda.


Support for Ukraine’s candidate status was finally forged in a matter of a week, in line with the European Commission’s ruling and in record time after kyiv applied to join the EU a few days after the Russian invasion. There is no doubt about the importance of the trip of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, to kyiv in which they confirmed to Volodimir Zelenski the go-ahead for accession and set a ‘ roadmap’ with conditions, dispelling possible doubts from several Member States.

The small print of this unprecedented political agreement, which means granting a European perspective for the first time to a country at war, establishes a periodic review of the reforms so as not to leave aside the technical issues that always accompany the European accession process.

Assuming that the Ukrainian authorities will continue the reform agenda, EU leaders gave a vote of confidence and also agreed to start assessing Ukrainian progress in October 2023, this is one year later than initially announced by the European Commission.

In this way, the EU gives kyiv room to achieve progress in reforms that are considered tangible and that can be achieved quickly, such as the appointment of judges or the launch of the anti-corruption agency.


The idea spread among European leaders that at a time of intense fighting in Donbas, a sign of support for kyiv was necessary to give morale to the troops and for European partners to recognize the struggle of Ukrainian soldiers on the ground.

Likewise, the EU sends a message to Moscow and Brussels has the idea that it has a strategic part in this decision. In the face of the Ukrainian authorities sitting down to negotiate a ceasefire or peace agreement with Russia, the European perspective granted ‘expressly’, in a step of unity of the Twenty-seven is an important asset for the future negotiating table .

The status of a candidate has an important reputational dimension and that is why the decision of the Twenty-seven marks a commitment to the future reconstruction of Ukraine and the start-up of a democratic, modern and dynamic country. The granting of status is an endorsement for the financial markets and a message of security for global economic actors.

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