2nd EU-BiH Stabilisation and Association Council meeting

Joint statement following the second Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union held its second meeting on 10 July 2017. The SA Council welcomed Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country. It noted the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina in its EU integration process following the country’s application for EU membership of February 2016 and the Council conclusions of September 2016 inviting the European Commission to submit an opinion on the merits of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application.

The SA Council called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue and intensify its efforts to ensure effective implementation of the reform agenda in line with the schedule of the action plan agreed by the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities, for the benefit of its citizens and in close cooperation with the European Union, international financial institutions and other international partners, as well as civil society. Recalling its first meeting, the SA Council stressed that credible implementation of commitments undertaken by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leadership is the only way to move the country forward on its EU integration path.

The SA Council welcomed the establishment of the coordination mechanism on EU matters in August 2016 as well as the start of its activities and called on all levels of governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure the effective implementation of the mechanism, including for the purpose of ensuring harmonised and consolidated answers to the Commission’s opinion questionnaire, as an indispensable step towards improving the efficiency of the Bosnia and Herzegovina administration, with due input from all levels of governance across the country.

The SA Council stressed the need for the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to prepare a strategic programme for the country’s legal approximation with the EU, as required under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, and to ensure smooth functioning of all joint EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina bodies under the Agreement, including the stabilisation and association parliamentary committee.

The SA Council noted that the signature in December 2016 of the Protocol on the adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement following the accession of Croatia to the European Union and the full implementation of the SAA are important elements of the country’s commitment to the EU integration process.

The SA Council welcomed the adoption of a strategy on integrated border management (IBM) and a new legislative framework on migration and asylum. The SA Council recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina urgently needs to meet international standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. With regard to counter-terrorism, the SA Council noted with concern that Bosnia and Herzegovina has been affected by the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and radicalisation. In this respect, the SA Council welcomed the important measures taken by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina over the past year. The SA Council called on the country’s authorities to take further steps in this regard, notably to prevent and fight radicalisation.

Regarding the framework agreement on participation in EU civil and military missions signed in 2015, the SA Council welcomed the efforts of Bosnia and Herzegovina to become actively engaged with EU crisis management operations. The SA Council encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to further enhance its role and commitment as a security provider. With this in mind, the SA Council called on Bosnia and Herzegovina to further progress its alignment with EU declarations and decisions of the Council of the EU.

With respect to EU financial assistance, the SA Council encouraged further progress in preparing coherent countrywide strategies in key sectors such as energy and agriculture to unlock further EU funding. The SA Council acknowledges progress made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in adopting a country-wide strategy in the transport sector which will unlock this sector for support under Instrument for pre-accession assistance II. The SA Council also looks forward to the signature of the transport community treaty by all parties. The SA Council further took note of the adoption of the Bosnia and Herzegovina strategy in the area of environment. While welcoming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s participation in regional initiatives, the SA Council recalled the opportunities offered by the connectivity agenda and its future follow-up in order to improve Bosnia and Herzegovina’s transport and energy regional inter-connections.

The SA Council also welcomed the 2016 communication on EU enlargement policy and the 2016 report on Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted by the Commission on 9 November 2016 and invited Bosnia and Herzegovina to follow up on its policy recommendations.

The meeting was chaired by Ms Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission. The Delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was led by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Denis ZVIZDIĆ who was accompanied by Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko ŠAROVIĆ, Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor CRNADAK, and Deputy Minister of Finaces and Treasury Mirsad Žuga. Director General Christian DANIELSSON, European Commission Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR), also took part in the meeting.