Joint Statement of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Representatives of the European Commission and the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina met in Sarajevo to discuss the level of approximation and transposition of the EU rules in the fields of regional development and environment.

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 President of the Committee of the Regions of the EU, Ms Mercedes Bresso, addressed the Sub-committee underlining the high relevance of regional and local development for Bosnia and Herzegovina on its European path and the opportunities for investments in infrastructure, human resources and cohesion of various parts of the country by means of EU funds. All this requires appropriate coordination of all relevant levels of government. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to speak with one voice to the EU.

The Sub-committee agreed that some progress was reached in the establishment of regional development strategies and plans and the related legislation, such as with regard to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Coordination of regional and local development needs to be improved, above all with regard to an overall regional development framework in the country.

The Commission asked Bosnia and Herzegovina to set up a plan on how to fulfil the obligation to submit to the Commission before July 2013 GDP per capita figures at the so-called NUTS II level.

Approximation and legislative alignment are very complex in the area of environment. Coordination and cooperation between the Entities, the Brčko-District and the State level is therefore very important in this field. Progress in the legislative approximation has been assessed as uneven in the area of environment. On the horizontal legislation, the Commission underlined the relevance of the Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment Directives. For the later, the transposition process is still at a very early stage.

Some progress was noted in the area of air quality. A uniformed monitoring and reporting system of environmental data such as on air quality and water quality is not sufficiently ensured. The Commission stressed the importance of making progress with the establishment of an Environment Agency to coordinate issues of environment monitoring and reporting but recognised that the structure of such an agency would need to reflect the constitutional distribution of competences in BiH.

The Commission took note of some progress in the area of waste management. The Commission encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to consider the waste hierarchy when dealing with waste, where recovery and recycling should be promoted.

The Commission took also note of the progress made in the area of water management and welcomed the coordinated approach between Entities in what concerns the water management.

In the area of nature protection, the Commission took note of the lack of progress in the transposition and implementation of Nature directives (Birds and Habitats Directives). In the context of potential future enlargement, the Commission informed the Bosnian authorities that this policy area was one where traditionally transition periods were not granted and full implementation is expected at the date of accession.

The Commission welcomed the accession of BiH to the CITES Convention and encourage them to sign the Gabarone Protocol which will permit full EU participation in this Convention.

Regarding the industrial pollution, the permits granted to IPPC installations should be in line with the quality objectives of other EU relevant legislation, in particular air and water quality.

The Subcommittee agreed on the importance of EU acquis in the area of climate change. It was agreed to give more detailed consideration of this topic and of actions by BiH at the next meeting.

The EU drew the attention of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU’s specific targets and objectives for the Rio+20 Summit, in particular relating to water, oceans, energy, resources and land degradation. Objectives and targets in these areas have been proposed by the EU. The Commission appreciated that BiH has been supporting EU position in the preparation of this Conference and encourage them to give positive consideration to these proposals. The Commission indicated that on the subject of the institutional framework for sustainable development, the EU referred to initiatives being made concerning the reinforcement of the role of UNEP within the existing Treaty provisions as an alternative in the first instance to the creation of an United Nations Environment Organisation. The EU is giving consideration to this possible alternative.