Presentation of the European Commission 2011 Progress Report on BiH

The European Union 2011 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina finds very limited progress the country’s political and economic development, the Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enlargement, Pierre Mirel, and the Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative, Peter Sorensen, said today.

The Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina is part of the 2011 Enlargement Package adopted by the Commission on 12 October.

On the same day that the European Commission recommended opening accession negotiations with Montenegro and granted EU candidate status to Serbia, the Progress Report concluded that the pace of reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina is too slow.

Speaking at   the press conference, Ambassador Sorensen reaffirmed the European Union’s commitment to helping Bosnia and Herzegovina implement the reforms that are needed if it is to move faster on the path to EU membership.

Mirel made it clear that there has been little progress in the main areas under review: rule of law, freedom of expression, economic development, human rights, and regional cooperation and reconciliation.

“Some results have been achieved, for example in visa liberalisation and in taking part with the EU in a Structured Dialogue on Justice,” Mirel said. He added that “setting up the commission for implementation of the Sejdic-Finci ruling and making appointments to the Anti-corruption Agency are other good examples.”

However, he said failure to reach political agreement on forming the BiH Council of Ministers, to harmonise the Constitution with the European Convention on Human Rights or to adopt the State Aid Law has held up Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards EU integration and EU membership. He said progress requires functional institutions at all levels.

“When a country delivers, the EU delivers,” Mirel said.

The Progress Report cites inadequate transportation infrastructure, a low level of direct investment, and an incomplete fiscal framework as causes of the economic slow-down in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unemployment remains at a very high level.  Efforts to uphold human rights and protect minorities, despite some progress in implementing the Roma Strategy, have met with difficulty. Political pressure on the media has continued. Public administration reform has moved forward but coordination between the different levels of government remains weak. Progress on public procurement, customs and taxation remains insufficient and this is also true of reforms in social policy, education, and environmental protection. A comprehensive energy strategy needs to be adopted and a functioning countrywide transmission company established.

“We hope the BiH authorities will take the findings of this Report as an agenda for action,” Mirel said. “We can recommend and assist but it is up to the BiH authorities to do the work.”

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