Bosnia and Herzegovina: Progress and outstanding issues in EU agenda

The key priorities for the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the EU integration process were discussed at the meeting of Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zlatko Lagumdžija in Brussels today. “I have welcomed a number of recent positive developments including the adoption of the state aid and census laws which are crucial steps for progress on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path. However there are still outstanding issues which require further efforts,” Commissioner Füle said after the meeting.

“The entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU is within reach. But Bosnia and Herzegovina must make a credible effort to bring its Constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights in line with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdić-Finci case. I regret that the Joint Parliamentary Committee tasked with the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling still has not reached an agreement on the necessary constitutional amendments.”

Commissioner Füle also stressed that an agreed coordination mechanism for EU matters needs to be established as a matter of urgency. This will ensure that EU rules and standards will be implemented equally across the country and that EU financial assistance will support agreed priorities. He also talked about the Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance for the country. “The IPA programming and the implementation of the Interim Agreement have already demonstrated the coordination problems in BiH, which risk paralysing the European Integration process. I am concerned to see a repetition of last year’s events when an agreement could be reached only through intensive interventions by the European Commission” Mr Füle said.

He noted that it was also essential that all authorities throughout BiH provide effective follow-up to the recommendations issued under the EU-BiH Structured Dialogue on Justice and effectively implement all the reforms undertaken under the visa liberalisation dialogue. Furthermore, he called for a quick adoption of the 2012 state budget law, to ensure adequate financing of key institutions that play a role in EU integration such as the anti-corruption agency.  Commissioner Füle concluded the meeting by reaffirming the EU’s commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European future. “I hope that this will be a good year for the country. The EU will continue to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina with expertise and financial support. But Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political representatives have to do their part.”