(Bloomberg) -- European Union leaders may grant Bosnia-Herzegovina official candidacy status as early as Dec. 15’s summit in Brussels, according to people familiar with the plan.

The move, the next step on the long path toward membership which would require approval of all 27 EU member states, would be a major boost for Bosnia. It’s still grappling with the fallout from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, which the U.S.-brokered Dayton accords in 1995 brought to an end.

Bosnia is split into two competing areas -- the Serbian-dominated Republika Srpska and a Muslim-Croat led region. They are frequently at loggerheads over issues from the size of the military to the budget and land reform, though they’ve avoided an escalation into armed conflict.

The EU has helped to keep a lid on tension by dangling the possibility of membership, which has been delayed by Bosnia’s slow progress on reforms.

Zeljka Cvijanovic, the Serb member of Bosnia’s collective, three-person presidency, said Tuesday that giving the country candidacy status would send a message “to the whole region that no one is left behind.”

“We have such expectations and we have certain promises,” Cvijanovic told reporters at an EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana. “I regret that that didn’t happen much earlier.”

Letting Bosnia move a step closer to EU membership would come amid “new geopolitical circumstances now,” she said, in a reference to the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said it’s “only a question of time when the political decision will be made” on Bosnia’s candidacy.

Technical details “show big progress” and he’s still optimistic that a positive decision, which Slovenia is pushing for, can be made next week in Brussels, Golob told reporters at the summit in Tirana.

--With assistance from Slav Okov, Jan Bratanic, Kevin Whitelaw and Irina Vilcu.

(Updates with Cvijanovic comment starting in fifth paragraph)

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