Statement by the Head of the EU Delegation/EUSR Wigemark following WB Summit in Trieste

Following the 2017 Western Balkans Summit that took place yesterday in Trieste, Italy, and failure of Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign the Transport Community Treaty, the Head of the EU Delegation to BiH and the EU Special Representative, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, made the following statement:

“I regret that Bosnia and Herzegovina was unable to sign the Transport Community Treaty and join the five other Western Balkans countries in the Transport Community Treaty, which  opens new connections within the region and with the EU. The Summit invited Bosnia and Herzegovina to join as soon as possible and I hope that the country will be ready to sign the agreement in the near future. Now is not the time for any blame games as to why it was not possible for BiH to sign this important international agreement which has been in the making for eight years.  The focus should be on finding a solution to allow Bosnia and Herzegovina to join the other five Western Balkans countries who already signed the Transport Community Treaty yesterday in Trieste. In doing so the international obligations of the BiH as well as the constitutional competencies of all levels of government in BiH need to be fully respected.  

I therefore urge the competent authorities at all levels in BiH to move forward and resolve any differences without any further delays.  The Transport Community Treaty was initialled by BiH already in February this year and any internal issues, including how to coordinate common positions before the Transport Community Treaty, should have been resolved by now.  

In Trieste, the European Commission announced a substantial connectivity package of seven projects, totalling €194 million EU in grants, and leveraging investments of €500 million, for seven new regional projects to improve transport and energy links within the Western Balkans and with the EU. Included in this package are four projects submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina. These four projects will only be implemented when outstanding issues related to the fiscal space have been resolved, including the adoption of an excise duty law, and when Bosnia and Herzegovina has signed the Transport Community Treaty.

The Transport Community Treaty is an important step towards infrastructure improvements and better quality transport services throughout the region. This will enable Western Balkan countries to export to larger markets, attract new investors and boost their economic growth. Ultimately it would also improve the daily life of their citizens. Finally, this Treaty will help the Western Balkan countries to align their national transport laws with those of the EU, thereby strengthening neighbourly relations, promoting cross-border cooperation and bringing these countries closer to the European Union.”