Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 25 October 2018 to discuss the level of implementation of the SAA and of approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the field of agriculture and fisheries, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr. Detlev Boeing from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr. Dušan Nešković, Deputy Minister of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.
BiH’s agriculture and rural development sector, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary matters, is one of the key strategic sectors for competitiveness of the country’s economy and for local economic development. It has a high potential for generating growth, job creation and export. At the meeting, the parties discussed developments in the area of agriculture and exchanged detailed trade statistics. The Commission welcomed the adoption of the countrywide “Strategic Plan for Rural Development of BiH (2018-2021) – Framework Document” in February 2018. The adoption and implementation of the strategy paved the way for substantial EU funding of EUR 30 million under the 2018 IPA National Programme, which is now in the pipeline. About EUR 20 million are earmarked for agriculture (e.g. on-farm investments) and EUR 10 million for food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues. The Commission called upon BiH to step up considerably its efforts to enhance institutional and administrative capacities, coordination and legal framework in all related areas. It urged BiH again to overcome the stalemate on the agricultural census which lasts already for several years. The Commission expects a soon adoption of the State law on wine and the harmonisation of the entity laws. The rulebook on geographical indications needs to be further improved and adopted. The Commission recommended the adoption of a State level law on organic farming. Agricultural information systems have yet to be harmonised throughout BiH.
Fishery policies in BiH need to be harmonised across the country and aligned with the EU acquis in order to increase the BiH producers’ export potential to the EU. Trade in fish between EU and BiH is modest on both sides. The Commission welcomed the signature of the Malta MedFish4Ever Ministerial Declaration on cooperation and sustainable management of aquaculture and fisheries for all coastal states in the Mediterranean.
In the areas of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues, the Commission reiterated its call for BiH to align its state level laws on food safety and veterinary matters with the EU acquis and upgrade its institutional and administrative capacity. In 2018 BiH was authorised for export of pasteurised raw milk and dairy products. The Commission initiated recently the procedure for a possible authorisation for export of poultry meat and poultry meat products. It called upon BiH to step up its efforts in ensuring sustainable resources for animal disease control measures in the long run. As for phytosanitary matters, BiH has still to adopt the OECD seed scheme.