Transcript of the press conference by Director-General of the European Commission Directorate-General for Enlargement, Christian Danielsson

Sarajevo, 13 March 2014

Director-General for Enlargement Christian Danielsson: Thank you for being here at this late moment. I am happy to be here in Sarajevo today.
The reason for my visit is that I had meetings with leaders, and also with a working group, on the issue of how to implement IPA. Let me start by just being clear that it is also a sign of how much the EU stands behind Bosnia and Herzegovina; and full commitment from us when it comes to the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is also a sign of our appreciation of what needs to be looked into in particular here; I am thinking in particularly in the areas of the economy, the social protection system and promoting trade; I am thinking of strengthening rule of law, and I am thinking of protecting human rights.

So, today’s exercise was about the support that the European Commission and the EU give to Bosnia and Herzegovina which is substantial. Over the period since 2007 we have up till now 600 million euro that we have programmed for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

And what we were discussing today was how we can see to what is not yet out and working in the Bosnia and Herzegovina economy. How the disbursements can be speeded up. We are talking here about projects in the amount of 210 million euro, which are under implementation but not yet finalised and we were talking about 150 million euro which have not yet been contracted. We looked in particular at eight projects in the total amount of 45 million euro in the area of transport and environment, support for civil society and other issues. I think it was a very useful meeting. We agreed on various steps in order to move ahead and we will meet again in the beginning of April to take stock of progress.

Let me also point out two other elements which are important in this approach in order to look at how we can support BiH’s effort to reform its economy and strengthen the rule of law. We had a meeting last week which started a process to look in particular at how to further address the fight against corruption. This is an addition to the structured dialogue that we already have with Bosnia and Herzegovina with regard to justice, and the objective is to identify concrete action that needs to be taken in order to fight corruption. This is important in general, but it is also very important when it comes to the economy. The third element is that we would like to start deep and comprehensive dialogue with Bosnia and Herzegovina in areas which are important in order to address unemployment, growth, competitiveness and we look forward to starting this dialogue very soon. So, these three elements together, the further efforts to see to that the IPA funds can deliver, secondly the fight against corruption and the third, dialogue as regards to the economic reforms, we believe are going to be very important elements in our further dialogue and cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. I think I will stop here and I am ready to take questions.

Marin Vesic, Al Jazeera: The amount of money you just mentioned – that would be 210 million and also 150 million respectively, does that also include the 45 million from IPA funds that were frozen last year?

Director-General Danielsson: This does not include the 45 million of IPA funds that were frozen last year. This is 210 million of funds that are under implementation, but where steps still need to be taken in order for them to be delivered, and the remaining 150 million are funds that have not been contracted yet.
Sead Numanovic Dnevni avaz: What is it with 45 million euro? Is it lost? And the second question is where we are with the mechanism of coordination? Is it still cornerstone for the progress in getting the assistance from the EU?

Director-General Danielsson: Let me start with the funds. There is no lack of funds. As I mentioned, there are all together 360 million out there that needs to be disbursed and need to be fully implemented. So the focus now, in the short-term, is to see that happen. That is why we had this working group today and that is why we are going to meet in April again. When it comes to coordination, this is still a very important issue. We are discussing with our partners, BiH partners, how this should be brought forward.

It is indeed an issue which needs to be addressed as we move ahead.
Sead Numanovic, Dnevni avaz: What is it with 45 million EUR? Is it lost?

Director-General Danielsson: 45 million is lost. They are not part of the amount for Bosnia and Herzegovina that I mentioned.