New initiative of the EUSR Office in BiH helps stakeholders explore practical reforms to create jobs

The first event in the country-wide debate series ‘What does the Compact for Growth and Jobs mean?’ , was held in Tomislavgrad on 5 May and the second in Čapljina on 6 May. This initiative of the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH follows the publication of the ‘Compact for Growth and Jobs’ in July 2014 and the call for a reform agenda for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Conclusions of the Council of the European Union from December 2014.  

Through a series of one day events and promotional activities, attention was focused on the most-needed reforms and the opportunities for all groups of BiH society. The events on each day included:

•    a Public debate on the Compact in the morning
•    an Employment and Career Forum in the afternoon

More than 250 participants, including the representatives of local CSOs, business, stakeholder associations, employed and unemployed persons together with high school students visited the events, engaged in the public debates and explored employment and career opportunities presented at the Employment and Career Forums in Tomislavgrad and Capljina where around 80 employment opportunities from the area were offered.

Anto Domazet, professor of economics at the University of Sarajevo and a participant of the public debate said: “The Compact for Growth and Jobs is an EU initiative which helps BiH citizens to shift the focus from politics to urgent economic issues. However, in order to achieve real social and economic reforms, the process has to be comprehensive because Compact measures will face resistance from those who benefit from the present system and offers opportunities to those who are currently excluded.”

Young people, who took an active role during the debates, stressed the sense of hopelessness generated by a lack of employment opportunity but several raised the possibility of starting their own business.  Drago Tomić, a student from Vocational school in Tomislavgrad said: “When I came to this meeting I was sceptical, but the presentations and advice have opened my eyes to possibilities in my own environment and country.” The students stressed that this was the first such event in their community which got them thinking about their perspectives beyond moving abroad, and looking for options to stay in BiH.

Participants also used the opportunity to discuss their business ideas and plans with the panellists as well as topics such as start-up businesses, prequalification and the situation on the job market in general. Business stakeholders pointed to the problems of high social contributions, inadequate government support, weak market demand, high interest rates and an uncompetitive business environment.

The events were also supported by representatives of European Union member states representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Head of the Diplomatic Bureau of Belgium Jean-Pierre Biebuyck noted that reforms were essential to get the BiH economy growing again and to provide social and economic support for all citizens, but especially the youth and those entering the job market. Loes Lammerts, Deputy Head of Mission at the Dutch Embassy said: “After years of stagnation we believe it’s high time for reform, Bosnia and Herzegovina has huge potential for growth and we are very concerned that so many citizens, including so many young people, do not see a better future here.”

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About the initiative

During May and June an initiative of the Office of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina will take place in 15 cities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, aiming to promote public debate on socio- economic reforms. “What does the Compact for Growth and Jobs mean?” is a project financed by the Office of the European Union Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the first two events, the initiative will visit a different municipality every week. Events will be held in Bihać on 20 May, Sanski Most 21 May, Prijedor 22 May, Istočno Sarajevo 28 May, Foča 29 May, Brčko 4 June, Bijeljina 5 June, Mostar 11 June, Trebinje 12 June, Travnik 18 June, Vitez 19 June, Doboj 25 June, Tuzla, 26 June.  

For media queries please contact the press office of the EUD/EUSR on +387 (0)33 560 821 or Boram Agency, Samra Luckin, Director +387 (0)61 227 818.