BiH, a step closer to the EU as the leadership hands in the EC Questionnaire

BiH, a step closer to the EU as the leadership hands in the EC Questionnaire

After more than 440 days since BiH institutions received the European Commission Questionnaire, Chairman of the BiH Presidency, Dragan Čović, and Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić, handed over the answers to the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the special ceremony organised in Sarajevo, on Wednesday.

The document contains the answers on 3, 242 questions which will be reviewed in EC in process of BiH approach to EU. More than 1 100 officials at state and entities’ level were engaged in this important job and all questions are harmonised between different levels of government in BiH. That was the main reason why the process of the answering lasted so long. More than 14 months after receiving the Questionnaire, BiH and its entities have given the answers; but, is this enough to achieve status of candidate for full membership in the EU?

At the press conference after the official ceremony in Sarajevo, BiH Presidency Chairman, Dragan Čović said that the fact that all answers are harmonised show that the system is now efficient and that it will ease the further steps of the country towards the EU path.

He thanked Juncker and other “friends of BiH in EU” because, as he said, BiH now keeps the path toward EU in its own hands and that it is possible that BiH catch the line with other countries in the region.

“I hope that the political climate ahead of the election will not stop our activities and that we will speed up our efforts to fulfill conditions for candidate status. We know procedures and that there is no ‘free lunch’, but we must do everything to achieve the goals,” Čović said.

In his address, EC President, Jean-Claude Juncker, noted that this is an important day for BiH and for Europe and congratulated all sides involved in answering on more than 3 000 questions.

“I’m impressed by the quality of the work which you done. You have now seen what the daily work of European officials looks like and you are prepared for future phases,” said Juncker.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that the essence of the answer is more important than the date when BiH will reach candidate status. He could not precisely say when that date BiH would be, but announced that the answers will be analysed and the EC will determine whether additional questions are needed.

“We will go step by step. The essence is more important than the date and there should be a difference between speed and rush. This was a serious job and we will continue to be friendly,” Juncker concluded.

He also addressed MPs in both BiH Parliament Houses saying that the “path in which BiH is moving is the natural path for her”.

“You are Europe and an integral part of European territory, European history and culture. We must together improve and consolidate history and geography of Europe”, Juncker noted in his speech.

He emphasized that the changes in BiH’s Election Law must be made and that, without them, after elections, the institutions would be blocked as well as the EU path.

Many in the country, such as the Social Democrat Party MP Saša Magazinović (state parliament), think that the job was finished but the quality of answers is questionable. He stated that it is clear that BiH will not become the EU candidate country before the General elections in October.

“I do not feel euphoric like people of the parties which lead the country. The fact that we needed more than a year for the work which others finished in just few months is not a big success. I would love to meet someone who is familiar with the content of the answer because I do not know what the content is, although I am an MP at the state Parliament and a member of the Parliamentary Commission for European Integrations. I officially do not know anything, but I have some unofficial information. I really regret that I had to use personal links to find out at least a portion of the answer. This should be a process in which we all participate, including citizens, the opposition, the academic community and the NGO sector. The whole process is ‘usurped’ by a handful of people and their close associates,” Magazinović said to IBNA…./IBNA