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European country on brink of becoming first to join EU since Brexit | World | News

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Nearly eight years on from the Brexit Referendum which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union, a new country could be on the verge of joining the bloc.

The Balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina in eastern Europe had had accession talks approved by the European Commission after its president Ursula von der Leyen praised its progress.

In a statement on Tuesday, President von der Leyen said: “Since we granted candidate status, Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken impressive steps forward.

“More progress has been achieved in just over a year than in a whole decade. Of course, more progress is necessary to join the Union but the country showing that it can deliver on its membership criteria and on its citizen’s aspirations to be part of our family.

“This is the reason for which we recommend to the Council to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. And for which we recommend that the Council adopts the negotiating framework once Bosnia and Herzegovina has taken further steps in line with the Commission’s report.”

President von der Leyen added: “We remain ready to report back to the Council about the progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina on these steps. The future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in our Union.”

Furthermore, the EU’s Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi described the enlargement as “a geostrategic investment in our shared prosperity and security in the entire European continent”.

Mr Varhelyi said that the latest step towards Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the EU was “a fair acknowledgement of the delivery of an unprecedented critical mass of reforms” introduced into the country in recent years.

Referencing Ukraine and Moldova’s intention to join the EU, he added: “To move ahead the EU path of Ukraine and Moldova, the Commission is today presenting the draft Negotiating Frameworks and will also update the Council on the progress made by these two countries to address the recommendations set out in the Commission’s Enlargement report of 8 November.”

The European Commission’s move towards accession talks has been welcomed by Austria’s foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg. Writing on X/Twitter he said: “Strong signal for #EU integration of the Western Balkans! Highly welcome @EU_Commission ’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Now it is time for EU leaders to acknowledge the bolstered reform progress and support BiH.”

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