Joint Statement of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Representatives of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina institutions met on 5 and 6 June 2012 in Brussels to discuss the level of approximation and transposition of the EU rules in the fields of Innovation, Information Society, Social Policy and Public Health.

Progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its European Integration process depends on the country’s fulfilment of the requirements of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU.

The delegations of the European Commission and of Bosnia and Herzegovina reached the following conclusions:

The Commission took note that the transition to digital broadcasting is further delayed, so that the efficient management of the digital switchover process requires now special attention. No progress can be reported concerning acquis alignment in the area of electronic communications, audiovisual policy and information society services, while the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has made some progress in implementing the competitive safeguards.

The Commission reiterated once again its concern regarding the institutional and legal situation of the CRA and called upon BiH to speed up the procedure of appointing a permanent director-general and its council members. It took note that the agreement on a political appointment is in conflict with legal arrangements and that the budgetary set-up is insufficient to secure CRA’s independence as required by the acquis. The Commission underlined that according to Art 104 of the SAA the legislation is supposed to be aligned with the acquis one year after the entry into force of the SAA.

The Commission reiterated its concern that despite its clear recommendations there have been no steps to ensure the editorial independence of BHRT, as well as the fact that the appointment procedure of two members of the Steering Board of BHRT has not yet been completed.

The Commission also took note of the fact that there was no on-going legal preparation regarding introducing 112 as a single emergency telephone number.

The Commission took note that the draft law on establishing the Agency for Information  Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina is blocked in disputes over constitutional competences and lack of coordination. The lack of legal arrangements in this area threatens to exclude Bosnia and Herzegovina from important growth impulses of the future internet-based economy.

The Commission took note that the Working-group on harmonisation of laws in the field of Public broadcasting has stopped functioning while some relevant laws are still not aligned with the acquis.

As regards the follow-up to the Roma Inclusions Seminar in July 2011, the Commission took note of some positive steps regarding the implementation of several projects in the field of education, housing and health care. However, further efforts are necessary in all the areas discussed (education, vocational training and employment, social issues and health care, and housing), in order to address all the operational conclusions of the Roma Inclusion Seminar.

The Commission highlighted that it has made provisions to enable citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to participate in a wide range of EU programmes in the areas of education and, media once the country agrees internally on coordinating arrangements that are compatible with the acquis.

As regards the Lifelong Learning Programme, Bosnia and Herzegovina confirmed its willingness to participate as of 2013 and allocate funds accordingly under its state budget and under IPA. 

As regards the MEDIA Programme the Commission explained that it does not interfere in the internal coordination to be established in the country, but requests a single contact point for the country. The establishment of a MEDIA desk to promote the programme and assist potential applicants is not an obligation, but in the country’s interest. In any case the MEDIA desk should be established at country level, as a single MEDIA desk. The Commission is to be involved in the selection process of the Head of the MEDIA desk, and will provide co-funding on this basis.

The Commission presented the Commission proposals for the future programmes in the area of education and culture “Erasmus for all” and “Creative Europe”.

The Commission took note of continuing progress made in the participation to the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7). Overall, BiH has shown increasing activity to stimulate research cooperation. The Commission underlined, that, given the political importance of research and innovation as reflected in the EU 2020 strategy, it is vital that BiH continues actively to strengthen the research and innovation capacity  as well as to increase level of investment. The Commission welcomed the attention BiH gives to innovation and commended the coordination at BiH level as an example to be followed for other policy areas and programmes. The Commission welcomed that FBiH plans the adoption of a Strategy on science and research and will evaluate results accordingly. Further efforts remain necessary in particular in view of participation in the next research programme Horizon 2020.

The meeting allowed for an up-date on developments regarding the slow reforms of pensions and disability insurance at different levels. The Commission encouraged BiH to take advantage of the EUMS experience of pension reforms to further develop their reforms. The Commission reiterated that the lack of coordination in collecting country-wide data and statistics on employment and social protection issues is hampering harmonisation with the acquis. The Commission repeated its regret that the State level Strategy for Social Inclusion remains to be adopted. The Commission invited all BiH partners relevant for implementing social inclusion policies to get inspirations from the ‘Active Inclusion’ concept and the Member States’ National Roma Integration Strategies in the context of the EU2020 Growth Strategy.

The Commission saw modest progress regarding the preparations in the area of health and safety at work and labour law and requested to receive documentation outlining the alignment with the acquis in legislation at different levels. Implementation capacities remain an issue.

The Commission repeated its concern that there is no progress regarding the outstanding issue of representativeness criteria of social partners’ organisations – a situation that continues to bear negatively on the establishment of an Economic and Social Council at state level.

Modest progress is being made in coordinating Entities Employment Strategies. Further efforts have to be undertaken in finalising operating plans related to the BiH Employment Strategy and in ensuring consistency with existing Action Plans. The Commission expressed concern at the lack of a strategic and integrated policy approach that would be needed to really address BiH employment challenges and foster skills development, growth and job creation. The Commission stressed the need to closely monitor and assess existing employment programmes and measures.

The Commission noted some progress in the area of public health in particular regarding administrative capacity building in public health institutes and preparing for a unified system of reporting on public health to fulfil international obligations.

Overall the Commission highlighted the need for all levels of government to agree on an efficient system of coordination in all appropriate policy-areas including those covered by this subcommittee.