A televised final event of the EUSR’s Outreach to Local Communities project was held on Monday. EU Ambassador in BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark was joined by the Ambassadors of Germany and Italy, Christiane Hohmann and Nicola Minasi as well as by regional experts from Croatia and Montenegro, to present main observations and findings of the project which included visits to 14 local communities throughout BiH.
Under the slogan Local Community Takes Initiative, public debates on the important role of the local communities in the EU integration process were organized in Gračanica, Zvornik, Derventa, Prnjavor, Gradiška, Kakanj, Vitez, Foča, Višegrad, Sokolac, Široki Brijeg, Stolac, Tešanj and Orašje. Ambassador Wigemark and his Deputy Khaldoun Sinno hosted public debates which were attended by over 1400 people including local business and agricultural communities, the municipal officials, civil society organisations, students and many other citizens. Ambassadors of several EU Member States, i.e. Sweden, Croatia, UK, Italy, Germany, France and Poland also joined in several communities.
In these debates, participants expressed their gratitude for having an opportunity to discuss these issues, to hear more about the important role of the local community in the EU integration process and necessary reforms as well as the best ways for the EU’s continuous involvement with local communities to further boost local socio-economic and infrastructural development.
Ambassador Wigemark stressed that the EU has paid a lot of attention to local communities over the past few months, including through this project, but also through so called Local Government Initiative which recently resulted with the report that contains important findings and a set of concrete recommendations for reforms that could be considered by local governments. In addition to this Initiative, together with German partners, the EU has recently launched a new EU programme of support to local and SME development worth €16 million.
A number of EU-funded projects for local economic development and employment also took part in these events to present the opportunities and benefits they offer for the local communities.