Joint Statement of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 17 and 18 April representatives of the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) institutions held the 4th meeting of the Interim Sub-Committee on agriculture and fisheries. The BiH Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Mr Mirko Šarović opended the meeting and conveyed the political support of the Council of Ministers to the work of the Sub-committee and the implementation of the recommendations of the European Commission. Mr Dušan Nesković of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations chaired the meeting; Ms Paola Pampaloni of the Directorate General for Enlargement of the European Commission led the delegation of the EU.

Particular attention was paid to the level of fulfilment of BiH obligations in the area of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary control, not the least in the light of the approaching accession of Croatia to the European Union and the implications for the trade of BiH with the EU including Croatia as from 1 July 2013. Exports of agricultural products of BiH to Croatia will have to fulfil all EU requirements.

Minister Šarović indicated that it is the priority of the BiH Council of Ministers to make the necessary efforts to speed up the legislative alignment process and to setup required administrative and control structures in the country to allow for the exports of BiH agricultural products to Croatia and the EU as a whole as from 1 July 2013.

The Commission reminded that related recommendations had been made to BiH repeatedly. The Commission recommended to BiH to concentrate on the most important products such as milk, dairy products, poultry meat and honey, since they have the highest relevance in terms of bilateral trade of BiH with Croatia.

The Commission assured BiH of its continuous support through TAIEX in the next months to help BiH to overcome the gaps in the official food and feed control system and to ease the consequences of the accession of Croatia to the EU. The lack of clarity on the competences of the various relevant institutions in BiH is one of the most critical issues and should be solved without any further delay.

Both parties agreed that the overall implementation of the Interim Agreement regarding the trade in the agriculture and fishery sector is satisfactory and that it is important to ensure proper implementation of the agreement also in the future. Positive developments in the trade exchange between BiH and the EU were welcomed by both parties; trade in agricultural products is continuously increasing. The increase of prices in this sector affects the trade balance in favour of the EU.

The Commission took note of the significant increase (of 64%) of export of fish and fishery products to the EU. The current trade tariffs and quota will be adapted in the light of Croatia’s accession to the EU.

The Commission regrets that BiH has still not been able to agree on a system for allocation of EU funds for rural development (IPARD) in BiH. This prevents farmers and rural municipalities from benefiting from substantial EU funding of several millions of Euros for activities such as modern infrastructures of farms, subsidies for young farmers and investments in rural waste disposal and waste water management facilities. BiH will undertake more efforts to agree on a model that takes into account the constitutional structure of BiH and the EU legislation.