The 4th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Committee between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union took place on 7 November 2019 in Sarajevo. The meeting was co-chaired for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr Edin Dilberović, Director at the Directorate for European Integration of the BiH Council of Ministers, and for the EU by Ms Michela Matuella, Head of Unit for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission. This was the first meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Committee after the publication of the Commission Opinion on the EU membership application of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Stabilisation and Association Committee took stock of the most important developments of the past year in the areas of democracy, fundamental rights, rule of law including migration management, public administration reform, as well as economic criteria including the new agenda of socio-economic reforms. The meeting discussed also developments in the approximation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU legislation in most areas covered by the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, such as trade, agriculture and fisheries, industry and internal market, innovation and culture, information society, social policy, transport, energy, environment and climate change. The implementation of the EU financial assistance was also reviewed.
The Opinion makes it more urgent for Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus on fulfilling the political criteria for EU membership. Despite some positive steps in a few areas that enabled the resumption of EU funding, almost no progress could be observed due to the year-long political stalemate after the 2018 general elections. Without governments at all levels and without a functioning Parliament, Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be able to deliver on reforms necessary to advance towards opening accession negotiations.
On migration, Bosnia and Herzegovina has to take urgent measures to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the winter season, including by immediately closing the unsuitable location of Vučjak and by increasing appropriate reception capacities. Electoral reforms, strengthening of the judicial system in line with European standards, fight against corruption and organised crime are other important issues which Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to address in the interest of its citizens. The country should also accelerate the implementation of connectivity reform measures and related infrastructure investments.
Both sides agreed on the agenda of the next cycle of sub-committee meetings which will discuss in more detail the challenges of legal approximation and capacity building in all areas under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
The EU recalled its strong commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European integration process and confirmed its support through technical and financial assistance.