Grude public debate discusses challenges and opportunities of the EU integration process

Over 70 entrepreneurs, businessmen, civil society representatives, youth and other local community stakeholders joined the 4th public debate held in Grude on 11 June 2019 asking numerous questions about the process of European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

”Municipality of Grude is a good example of how one local community can take matters in its hands, create a dynamic economic climate and attract investors. Furthermore, yours is the municipality with the biggest number of jobs in BiH, and you continue to create opportunities for new employment. I think that Grude citizens have grasped the essence of the EU integration process! They realised that it is all in the hands of citizens who need to demand from the elected politicians to provide them with the same standards as those for the EU citizens, especially the most important one reflecting the idea of the EU – a living standard, ” stated the debate’s host, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of the European Union Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative.

Spanish Ambassador to BiH, José María Valdemoro Giménez, also participated in the debate, speaking about the experiences of his country and difficult periods that Spain went through, as well as the progress it achieved thanks to the implemented reforms and the accession to the European Union.

Citizens attending the debate asked questions on a number of areas, including road infrastructure construction, placement of the BiH goods on the EU market, the rule of law and the youth emigration trend.

One of the project’s local experts, Intera Technological Park Manager Meliha Gekić Lerić talked about ways to access the EU funds and projects through which the EU provides assistance to BiH.

Regional project expert, Tamara Puhovski, discussed Croatia’s path to the EU accession and lessons learned in this process that could be useful for BiH.

Ambassador Wigemark reminded the audience of the recently published European Commission Opinion on BiH application for the EU membership, which for the first time provides a comprehensive road map for BiH’s entry into the European Union and indicates the steps needed to open accession negotiations.

In the conclusion of the debate in Grude, he emphasised that all citizens should be more active participants in the process of European integration.

Public debates are being organised across the country under the ‘prEUzmi inicijativu’ („Take the EU initiative“) outreach project launched by the Office of the EU Special Representative (EUSR). The next debates will be held in Nevesinje, Odžak, Čajniče, Travnik and Zenica.