EU funding opportunities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

General background

Since the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union has provided the country with more than 3 billion Euros in assistance funds. This funding has been disbursed with regard to both the immediate and strategic requirements of BiH citizens.

  • Between 1995 and 2000 the focus was on humanitarian aid, refugee return and rebuilding physical infrastructure.
  • After this, EU funds were directed towards establishing and developing institutions and political and economic systems that would help Bosnia and Herzegovina become a fully functional state.
  • Since the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement in June 2008, the focus of EU funding, principally through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), has been on helping Bosnia and Herzegovina adjust its economic, political, security and social system to meet the requirements of future EU membership.

EU assistance is always provided according to an overarching strategy, developed in consultation with BiH institutions and stakeholders in a ‘programming process’ – it is not ‘first come first served’! Thus, the strategy keeps pace with developing circumstances in the country.

At the same time, EU funding is closely tied to projects that will deliver tangible and visible improvements in the daily lives of BiH citizens.

What EU funds are currently available to BiH?

Currently, as a potential candidate country, Bosnia and Herzegovina has access to the following funding opportunities:

How to apply for EU instruments and programmes?

Speaking generally, EU funds cannot be awarded to either a natural or legal entity without the completion of the appropriate competitive public procedures for EU external aid actions.

These procedures are undertaken by the EU Delegation to BiH or by the various EU services in Brussels. They are undertaken in the appropriate form:

  • procurement for services,
  • calls for proposals/grants,
  • procurement for supplies or works
  • twinning contracts.

The announcements are published on EU Delegation web page under EU Delegation tenders and on the EuropeAid web page.

To learn more on the procedures for EU external aid actions and all the steps that they foresee for each of the aforementioned contracts, please consult the Practical guide to contract procedure for EU external actions related to services, supplies, works and call for proposals/grants.

I have a good idea for a project in my community, will the EU fund it?

Almost all EU funding is directed to specific areas as laid out in the programming process and the resulting strategy developed with the BiH institutions. So these funds are not awarded simply for good ideas.

Secondly, it is important to know that because EU funds come from the taxpayers of the Member States, there has to be proper implementation and accounting of the funds, according to EU rules. This means that any body using EU funds, whether a BiH institution, an NGO or a company, has to have the ability – the people with the skills – do the required reporting, paperwork, and oversight (often referred to as ‘capacity’).

That said, the main way to pursue EU funding for an idea you have developed is to respond to a call for proposals for which your idea may be eligible. This type of procurement typically is the most flexible as far as the precise activity is concerned and you would have more scope to do what you want to do. Typical calls for proposals in recent years have included actions to inform the public on EU subjects and actions to promote human rights. A call for proposals is competitive – the best and most suitable projects, not all, get selected.

I am from an organization/company providing services in a specific sector, can we get EU funding?

In this case, you would respond to a tender (eg for services) from the HQ in Brussels or the EU Delegation (see web links above). These are typically highly detailed projects in which much of the activity is already set out. You would need to be capable of providing the services, activities or other items set out in the tender documentation.

What’s a twinning contract?

Twinning contracts relate to assistance from an EU Member State’s administration to a potential ‘twin’ in BiH’s administration (eg a ministry, agency etc) and are governed by different procurement rules, as explained here.

Also the web page of BiH Directorate for European Integration provides information on EU calls for tenders/proposals related to some of EU instruments and programmes, such as Cross-Border Cooperation programmes, TAIEX, EU (ex-Community) Programmes, etc.

Who benefits from the EU instruments and programmes?

All EU funding is aimed at producing, in the end, better conditions for citizens. In many cases this is done by providing funds for reform and improvement/development to:

Government institutions, non-governmental organisations (CSOs), private and public companies, associations, local administrations, economic and social partners, trade unions.