Importance of the local initiatives in the EU integration process

Local Community Takes Initiative

Entrepreneurs, local officials, citizens and representatives of youth and student organizations gathered in Zvornik on 9 February for the second debate on local economic development.

Head of Delegation of EU and EU Special Representative in BiH Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark hosted the debate together with Ambassador of Croatia to BiH Ivan Del Vechio. Local and regional experts participated actively in the debate, organized within the Local Community Takes Initiative project by the EUSR.

“The main goal of our activities is to emphasise the importance of the local communities in the EU integration process and this gives us the opportunity to meet with people from various branches and see their experiences and needs, but also to point out the importance of local initiatives,” Ambassador Wigemark said, emphasising the geographic importance of Zvornik and the whole Birač Region.

Ambassador Del Vechio highlighted the importance of this project. “We think that the key issue is to motivate BiH citizens, youth especially, to take more active role in the EU integration process”, Del Vechio said.

Resolving administrative burdens to the economy, possibilities of access to EU funds for tourism development and youth entrepreneurship were maim themes of the debate.

Speaking on the role of local communities in the EU integration process, regional expert Mirjana Stanković highlighted examples of good practices in the Republic of Serbia and emphasised the importance of active citizens’ participation in all segments of local government.

“The debate we had today and the discussion with citizens speaking openly about their problems represent an example of good public dialogue,” Stanković said.

Representatives of EU-funded projects that contribute to the development of local communities shared their experience during an informative-educational fair organised after the debate.

Ambassador Wigemark visited also successful local company Smrčak, dealing with mushrooms, medical herbs, fruits and vegetables processing. This company exports more than 96% of its products to the EU market. The Ambassador also visited non-profit educative art gallery Paleta. The gallery gets together young talented students, aged 7 to 25.

Through the “Local Community Takes Initiative” project, the EUSR in BiH will visit 15 local communities and hold debates on the role of local community and the challenges and possibilities that EU accession process provides. The first debate was held on 8 February in Gračanica.