JOINT STATEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Representatives of the European Commission and of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels for the 4th Interim Committee meeting in the framework of the Interim Agreement and the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

They discussed the level of approximation and transposition of the EU rules and standards in all areas and concluded that overall only limited progress can be noted, not the least because of the absence of a state level government since nine months. The Commission reminded of the two conditions to be fulfilled by BiH for a credible membership application: changes to the Constitution of BiH in order to make it compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the adoption of the State Aid Law. The Commission referred to the need for an effective and efficient coordination mechanism of the state, the entities and the Brčko District for the transposition, implementation and enforcement of EU law in BiH. The two parties agreed to ensure a timely follow up of the structured Dialogue on Justice, launched recently in BiH. The Commission welcomed that BiH’s work to collect the necessary information and data was on track. The answers by BiH will be analysed at the next meeting in early autumn. The Commission welcomed BiH’s efforts to continue the implementation of activities related to the visa liberalisation, such as the establishment of a reliable system of data exchange amongst law enforcement agencies by the end of the year. The Commission also reminded of the urgency to appoint the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency. The Commission called upon BiH to make progress in the field of public administration reform. It expressed its concerns on the current discussion on legislative changes in the Federation of BiH. Leading positions should be filled in accordance with the principle of a merit-based civil service. The Commission welcomed the plans of the Federation of BiH to tackle the problem of segregation in schools and to make them more inclusive. Main stakeholders in the country have still not yet agreed on the Global Fiscal Framework 2011- 2013. The EU’s macro-financial assistance of €100 million can therefore not be disbursed to the state and the entities. The Commission expressed its concern that no agreement has been reached so far on the state level budget. The Commission called upon the BiH Parliamentary Assembly to finally agree on the Census Law. This would enable the country to carry out the census in 2012, already one year late. The two parties agreed that the Interim Agreement is overall smoothly implemented as regards customs and taxation. This is one of the main reasons for the increasing trade between BiH and the EU in both industrial and agricultural products. The Commission urged BiH to waive any protectionist measures. The Commission clarified that the requirement to mark beer imported into BiH and to reserve at least 50% in large supermarkets in the Federation of BiH for products of BiH origin are discriminatory and go against the Interim Agreement. BiH is making progress in the field of veterinary, phyto-sanitary and food safety control. This enables the Commission to soon assess the control system with a view to authorise exports of more agricultural products to the EU. The Commission called upon BiH to make particular efforts to approximate the Public Procurement legislation to the relevant EU Directives. The current system is fragmented, not sufficiently transparent and does not open enough competition. This opens the door to corruption and causes important financial losses every year by public authorities at all levels. Both parties will start the next cycle of sub-committee meetings in November hoping that, with all Institutions in place, the approximation and transposition processes could accelerate. p>