The 4th Subcommittee meeting on Transport, Energy, Environment and regional development between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina took place on 22 September 2020. Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) discussed with relevant Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities the most recent developments in these areas, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Brussels/Sarajevo The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr Detlev Boeing, SAA coordinator and connectivity desk for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Directorate General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and by Mr. Mirza Hujić, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH.
The Commission welcomed the progress achieved by Bosnia and Herzegovina in some areas and encouraged the country to continue with the necessary reforms and the development of countrywide sector strategies and legislation.
The Commission emphasised that improving connectivity benefits economy and citizens throughout the region, as demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic. On transport, the Commission welcomed the commitment of Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve road safety and to advance alignment with the EU railway Directives. Investigative and safety rail authorities need to be independent from the regulator. The administrative capacities of BiH authorities and bodies, such as the Air Navigation Services Agency, require further strengthening in order to avoid any safety risks. On energy the Commission called for swift implementation of the Framework Energy Strategy adhering to principles of the EU Green Deal and Paris Climate Agreement. The lack of alignment with the Third Energy Package in the field of electricity and gas on the state level significantly impedes an effective integration of BiH in the regional energy markets. The delegations discussed also the planned construction by Croatia of the Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility at the location in Trgovska Gora at the border with BiH and agreed on further exchange.
On environment the Commission stressed that the European Green Deal remains the blueprint for the EU and that the response to the current pandemic cannot compromise on environmental action. Bosnia and Herzegovina should start implementing the countrywide BiH Environmental Approximation Strategy in a coordinated manner. The Commission reiterated the role of environmental assessments in good environmental governance. There is an urgent need for efficient monitoring and countrywide measures to reduce the high levels of air pollution. The Commission insisted that BiH should develop a countrywide BiH Environment Protection Strategy covering all relevant sectors. The Commission appreciated the good cooperation with BiH on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, in particular during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As regards climate change, alignment and implementation of the EU climate acquis require significant countrywide coordinated efforts. BiH needs to develop its National Energy and Climate Plan and focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and on its Nationally Determined Contribution. On regional development, the Commission underlined again the need to develop the countrywide Regional Development Strategy and fight growing imbalances between administrative levels. BiH needs to strengthen its administrative capacities in terms of programming, implementation and evaluation of EU funds.