Banja Luka, 30 November 2017
Representatives from the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Banja Luka on 30 November 2017 to discuss the implementation of the SAA and of approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis and standards in transport, energy, environment, climate change and regional development. The meeting was co-chaired by Ms Brankica Pandurević, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH and by Mr Detlev Boeing from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Strategy (DG NEAR) of the European Commission (Commission). Informal consultations with representatives of civil society organisations took place beforehand in Sarajevo and Banja Luka.
The Commission welcomed developments in transport. In September 2017 BiH signed, the Transport Community Treaty between the EU and the Western Balkan countries. As regards the connectivity agenda, the approval of projects proposed at the WB6 Summit of Trieste is subject to ensuring the necessary fiscal space and the adoption of the law on excise duty. Some progress could be noted on connectivity reform measures. The conclusion of rail border crossing agreements on Corridor Vc with Croatia is still pending. The Commission reiterated its request for more efficient enforcement and awareness raising measures to improve road safety, based on a countrywide strategy. The Commission also invited BiH to urgently address the shortage of qualified staff in the Directorate of Civil Aviation and enhance its implementation and enforcement activities. This will be crucial for taking over full control of the BiH airspace.
As regards energy issues, BiH has committed to adopt the countrywide energy framework strategy by end of 2017. The Commission is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in alignment with the third Energy Package in the field of electricity and gas on all levels of government. Opening of markets and unbundling is substantially delayed. The missing state-level legal framework for gas continues to be the biggest obstacle in the liberalisation of the gas market. These issues are key in the context of the infringement procedure in place and in view of the next Energy Community Ministerial Council in December 2017. Future updates of the BiH National Renewable Energy Action Plan should take into account the regional Hydropower Master Plan that will be completed end 2017. BiH has to adopt as a matter of urgency its Energy Efficiency Action Plan and implement the National Emission Reduction Action Plan. BiH has committed to undertake by end of 2017 the measures necessary to comply with the Directive for the content of sulphur in fuels.
As regards environment, the Commission acknowledged the progress on the ratification of several international conventions and protocols. It noted the adoption of the BiH Environmental Approximation Strategy (EAS). Strategic documents on waste and water management, monitoring and improving of air quality, industrial pollution and nature protection as well as related investment plans need to be fully harmonised. The Commission appreciated the good cooperation on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and the active participation of BiH in related regional programmes which should be enhanced in future.
As regards climate change, the Commission welcomed the ratification of the Paris Agreement. Significant efforts are needed to align with and implement the relevant EU climate acquis and develop the sectoral action plans. BiH has to focus on the implementation of its Nationally Determined Contribution and mainstreaming of climate action into other sectors, such as energy, transport and agriculture.
On regional development, the Commission underlined again the need to adopt the National Regional Development Strategy in order to benefit from EU assistance. The Commission recalled the obligation under the SAA to establish regions based on European classifications.