Press Release on the 2nd SAA Subcommittee on Innovation, Information, Society and Social Policy

Brussels, 30 January 2018

Representatives of the European Commission (Commission) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 30 January 2018 to discuss the level of implementation of the SAA and approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the field of innovation, information society and social policy. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr Georg Ziegler, Deputy Head of Unit for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr Adnan Husić, Assistant Minister from the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs.

During the meeting, the developments in the area of information society and media were discussed. While the Commission welcomed the adoption of the Electronic Communication Policy for 2017-2021, it regretted that BiH legislation has not been aligned with the EU acquis in the area of electronic communication in the timeframe established in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. BiH was asked to complete the digital switchover and to secure the finalisation of the political, financial and operational independence of the Communication Regulatory Agency, as well as to introduce the emergency number 112 throughout the country. Regarding the financial situation of the BHRT, the Commission urged BiH with no further delays to adopt and implement an adequate fee collection model to ensure the financial sustainability and the political independence of the Public Broadcasting System.

In the area of education and training, the Commission welcomed the adoption of the Platform for Development of Preschool Education in BIH for the period 2017-2020 and urged BiH to complete the domestic legislative and strategic framework, ensuring the necessary harmonisation between state-level, entity and cantonal legislation. The Commission encouraged BiH to implement the outcome-based common core curriculum, to improve the cooperation between ministerial stakeholders and between state- and entity-level accreditation agencies, to implement the action plan for a baseline qualification framework, to introduce entrepreneurial learning and to establish national education statistics. The Commission welcomed the preparations for the participation in PISA 2018 and the establishment of a branch in Sarajevo of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office. The Commission expressed concern and asked for further clarification about a recently issued letter by RS Ministry of Education which could be interpreted as call to prevent participation of BIH citizens and universities in certain activities in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.

With regards to employment and social policies, the strategic framework and institutional capacities were discussed, including implementation of Employment Action Plans and the development of skills based on labour market needs. The Commission asked BiH to step up efforts in developing and implementing active labour market policies and to adopt a country-wide sector strategy on employment as a precondition for accessing EU sectoral budget support. The Commission also encouraged the BiH authorities to strengthen their engagement in social dialogue. While welcoming some progress in the implementation of the Roma Strategy action plan the Commission stressed the need for improving the access to healthcare, education and employment for Roma.

The country’s investment in research and innovation remains low. The Commission encouraged BiH to improve the administrative capacities and coordination to enable it to fully benefit from available EU programmes. The Commission welcomed the adoption of the Strategy on Research 2017-2022 and encouraged to develop a Smart Specialisation Strategy. BiH was also asked to participate in 2018 European Innovation Scoreboard activity.