Speech by Richard Wood, Head of HAPSS at EUSR, at the conference “Strengthening the Institutional Capacities of Canton Sarajevo in the Fight against Corruption”

Ladies and Gentleman, I would like to welcome you to this round table and express my gratitude for being given the pleasure to present an overview of the issues entailed within the fight against corruption, from the EU perspective.

The Home Affairs and Public Security Section of the EU Special Representative's Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been covering anti-corruption by way of supporting both donor and policy coordination for three years now.

Effective fight against corruption is of utmost importance on the path to the EU accession, as indicated by the requirements stemming from Chapter 23 of the EU Acquis, various EU Directives and other instruments.

In October 2015, the Progress Report for BiH will assess the steps undertaken by the BiH authorities. As you may know, last year's report reflected little progress in advancing reforms to reduce corruption. Specifically, this affects the public sector and remains most visible in the areas of service delivery and access to employment.

Although the legal framework is in place, the implementation of laws is weak and inconsistent. In addition, some key pieces of legislation still fail to comply with international standards, including the standards of the European Union. This will be presented in more details by Mr Zoran Jachev in the course of this round table.

Having said this, compliance with these standards needs to be supported with well evidenced, coordinated investigations with timely and successful prosecution of corruption cases are in fact one of the means to measure a country's success in fighting corruption.

The design, adoption and implementation of Canton-based policy documents along with a streamlined cooperation between the BiH anti-corruption agency and the executive of Canton Sarajevo will, without doubt, advance the production of long-term results in the fight against and prevention of corruption. We look forward to seeing the results brought through successful prosecution, without and fear or favour at all levels.

Today's conference is of critical importance as –to my knowledge – it is one of the few time when such initiative is taken at cantonal level. I trust that Canton Sarajevo will set the tone and will create a welcome precedent for other cantons to engage in similar initiatives in the near future.

Therefore, I am particularly happy to see that representatives of relevant authorities from the cantonal, entity and state level are present here today. This will indeed pave the way for a fruitful discussion.

The EU stands ready, in coordination with the BiH Anti-Corruption Agency, to support and assist your future endeavours and we look forward the recommendations that will be emerge from this important event.

I wish to thank you for your attention and once again stress the importance of organizing such events, which deepen the cooperation amongst local stakeholders who work on consolidating the institutional capacity for policy coordination and implementation.