The European Commission has now approved the proposal for renewing its pre-accession financial support under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). IPA funds are, as you may know, an important part of EU support to help candidate countries and potential candidates prepare for the demands of EU membership across different sectors. Therefore this support will help to shape the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole region for the years to come. We are proposing to invest EUR 14.1 billion between 2014 and 2020 to support reforms in the countries wishing to join the EU. This will add to the EUR 11.5 billion we have provided from 2007 to 2013.
I believe that this renewed commitment gives new possibilities to the countries involved in the enlargement process to develop their economies, strengthen their governance and prepare for future membership of the Union.
With this proposal, we are giving a clear signal of our solidarity and continued commitment to European integration as well as support for democratic reforms. Despite the current economic turmoil the EU door remains open to all countries that are eligible to enter and fulfil the necessary criteria. And as for the economic crisis, it shows more than ever before that we need an effective and efficient tool to help the regions transition, which will bring more stability and security in Europe as a whole.
This is what the new proposal is all about. We pledge to maintain the same level of funding as today until 2020 to ensure long-term financial support for the reform process. At the same time, we propose concrete improvements in the way these funds will be delivered to achieve even better results because it will be tailor-made to the needs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These new instruments will allow us to respond even better to our partners needs and ambitions. Our support to partner countries will become faster and more flexible, in Bosnia and Herzegovina case because it will have the same access to assistance, regardless of its status as candidate country or potential candidate. We want to reward the best performers. Most importantly we want to prioritise projects that directly benefit citizens on their doorstep, for example improved administration and public services, better judiciary and a more effective fight against crime and corruption, upgraded infrastructure and a healthier environment. Finally, we want the new assistance to be more flexible, ensuring that funds may go swiftly to where the needs and capacities to absorb them exist.
What is in it for Bosnia and Herzegovina?
By way of example of some results so far, in 29 municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU funding has introduced transparent mechanisms for the disbursement of funds to civil society organisations. We have also helped to build roads, water supply and waste water facilities, to reform education systems and to assist SMEs.
The proposed changes outlined above will enable us to tailor funding to Bosnia and Herzegovina needs. The more flexible planning mechanisms and a better coordination will help to address key political reforms and to promote socio- economic development.
Commissioner for Enlargement and the European Neighbourhood Policy