The pace of BiH reforms slowed down in 2017

The pace of BiH reforms slowed down in 2017

The 3rd Stabilisation and Association Committee meeting between the EU and BiH was held on Tuesday, March 27, in Brussels, co-chaired by the Head of the EU Enlargement Directorate for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Michela Matuella representing the EU, and for the BiH Director in the Directorate for European Integration, Edin Dilberović.

As it was announced by the EU Delegation in BiH, the meeting reviewed the state of play in the areas covered by the political criteria, with focus on the rule of law, public administration reform and fundamental rights; the economic criteria with particular focus on the Reform Agenda and the Economic Reform Programme and the developments in the approximation of BiH to the EU legislation in the field of trade. Areas of revision were also agriculture and fisheries, industry, internal market, information society, social policy, connectivity in the area of transport and energy as well as environment and climate action.

The EU delegation stressed its commitment to support BiH to deliver in its EU ambitions as outlined in the recent Commission strategy on “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans” and called on BiH to maintain focus and show clear commitment and leadership on EU oriented reforms.

In particular, the EU delegation commended on the work done by the country’s administration to deliver the answers to the Commission’s Questionnaire in the framework of the preparation of the Commission’s Opinion on BiH membership application. This was a test case for the functioning of the co-ordination mechanism on EU matters. Delivering on possible further inquiries and requests for clarifications as well as ensuring that peer reviews take place smoothly will remain key in the coming months.

“The EU delegation noted that the pace of reforms has slowed down in 2017 but marked positive achievements towards the end of the year. In this context, the EU delegation welcomed the adoption of the countrywide strategy for rural development as well as the law on excise duties, which will help creating the fiscal space necessary to further benefit from additional financial support from the EU. The EU delegation insisted on the need to adopt the strategic framework in areas such as public administration reform, public financial management, employment and energy, the EU Delegation in BiH press release read.

At the meeting, the EU delegation stressed the importance of going ahead with the judicial reforms. It urged BiH to make tangible progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime. A comprehensive and countrywide human rights strategy, an anti-discrimination programme, and action plans should be developed. The EU delegation expressed concern over the lack of progress in the area of freedom of expression.

The EU delegation urged BiH authorities to ensure the conditions for the timely preparation of programmes for EU funding.

The EU delegation asked BiH to accelerate the effective implementation of the agreed Regional Economic Area Roadmap as well as of connectivity reform measures in view of the preparations for the Sofia summit in May 2018.

The meeting confirmed BiH’s commitment to progress on its European integration path and EU’s support in this endeavour… / IBNA