Ambassador Peter Sørensen on BiH’s EU Integration

On June 5, 2012, Ambassador Peter Sørensen, who serves as the European Union Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Since his arrival, he oversaw the formation of the coalition government that is on the brink of collapse only five months after formation, and is currently shepherding the end of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM). Despite this development, Ambassador Sørensen spoke optimistically about reforms in BiH and on the country's chances for EU membership. He noted that BiH is now home to the largest EU mission worldwide, with a staff of 160. The EU provides BiH with over €100 million per year, and remains committed to its economic and political development.

Ambassador Sørensen noted that there is widespread support for BiH's membership within the EU as well as in BiH. He is hopeful that 2012 will allow for the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) to be brokered between the two entities. The SAA will make for closer cooperation between the two, as well as establish a track record on which the EU can base further decisions. If the SAA is agreed upon, it is likely that BiH could apply for membership this year. If this were to occur, the Commission could begin its review of BiH's application, and at the earliest, BiH could earn candidate status in 2014.

Ambassador Sørensen noted that there is still work ahead for BiH, the most crucial being the establishment of a single economic market. Currently, BiH operates within two economies, the Federation and Republika Srpska (RS), which is confusing to investors and cannot exist if BiH is ever to join the EU. Given the EU's focus on economic and trade matters, this will be vital in ensuring a smooth membership process. ACBH noted that the RS President, Milorad Dodik has spent 13 million dollars on lobbying efforts in the U.S. alone in portraying the RS as the more stable of the two economies. Ambassador Sørensen said that despite that, in order to join the EU, BiH will have to have a single economy. Likewise, work remains to be done on the judiciary system in BiH, however, with dedicated work, he noted, BiH can attain its goal of EU membership, ensuring its future stability, development, and prosperity.