Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Khaldoun Sinno hosted the sixth public debate on the challenges and opportunities of the EU accession process held within this year’s outreach project to local communities, ‘prEUzmi inicijativu’. At the debate in Odžak, about 60 entrepreneurs, businessmen, civil society activists and young people posed numerous questions to the EU representatives, as well as regional and local experts.
”The accession process is a great thing for this country, however, this process cannot be guided by the EU or your administration alone. The entire society must make its contribution, each citizen must feel the EU accession process as his own, and it is important that everyone feels the true desire to be part of the change. This is why I want to encourage you to talk to your politicians, ask them what they have done so far in that context and what they plan to do in the upcoming period, especially now after the European Commission’s Opinion, which gives a clear road map and the steps that need to be taken to become a member state ,” Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH Sinno stressed.
The participants have shown great interest in the integration process and improving economic conditions, boosting competitiveness and accessing IPA funds. They discussed ways to facilitate the export of goods and produce to the EU market and simplifying customs procedures, as well as necessary improvements of the transport infrastructure which impacts the price of services and products of the companies.
Local expert Meliha Gekić-Lerić informed the attendees on the available pre-accession funds, and the ways that the European Entrepreneurship Network could be useful to entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.Regional expert from Montenegro Ljiljana Belada stressed that the EU accession process should be viewed as an opportunity for useful societal reforms and advancing living conditions for citizens, highlighting opportunities offered through the cross-border cooperation. Tamara Puhovski from Croatia pointed out the mistakes this country made in failing to use available EU funds and expressed hope that Croatia would strongly support integration of BiH and other countries in the region to the EU.
The next debate organised by the Office of the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the project ‘prEUzmi inicijativu’ will take place in Travnik on 8 July.