EU Ambassador Wigemark hosts public debate on challenges and opportunities ahead of BiH within EU accession process

More than 100 entrepeneurs, business, academic, civil society and youth representatives attended the debate on challenges and opportunities offered by the EU accession process

Banja Luka, 06 June 2019. – The third out of nine planned public debates on challenges and opportunities offered by the EU accession process was held today in Banja Luka. The debates are organised across the country within the project ‘prEUzmi inicijativu’ („Take the EU initiative“) which was initiated by the Office of the Special Representative of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUSR).

”Today we are here to hear more about  the citizens’ concerns and ideas, but also what EU means to them. We want to show them how they can take the initiative and improve their lives through the process of European integration and by applying the standards that we in the EU have. This will ensure  that more people feel the positive effects here in Banja Luka, but also throughout the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina. The citizens are primarily interested in the economic situaton, employment, education and health system, but also in security and better future,” said Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the European Union Delegation to B&H and EU Special Representative, who hosted today’s dynamic debate.

Interesting questions asked by the citizens could be heard during the  discussion attended by more than 100 entrepreneurs, academic, civil society and youth representatives.

Responding to the issue of accessing EU funds, Ljiljana Belada, a regional expert on the project, emphasised:

Montenegro uses about 90% of European funds, which is a phenomenal percentage, but why not use them 100%? So, somewhere we are still lacking knowledge and information. That’s why you should use all, especially cross-border projects where you can have someone from Austria, Germany or some other EU country for a partner. And if you are not satisfied financially, you will still gain knowledge and experience that will help you in the future to apply for a project yourselves..

Boro Marić, the director of Pecka Centre, used a concrete example to show how rural tourism can be an ideal opportunity for the development of local businesses and how this Centre has become a safe channel for local residents’ product placement, whether it is mushrooms, domestic honey, sour cream, cheese, milk, eggs or some other product.

After the debate, the participants also visited the informative and educational fair where they could see the EU-funded projects that have directly contributed to the economic and sustainable development of local communities.

During the month of June, the public debates will continue to be held in Grude, Nevesinje and Odžak.