In the field of agriculture and rural development, Bosnia and Herzegovina must align with the EU acquis under Chapter 11, including Fishery under Chapter 13. Although much has been accomplished, there is still a lot to be implemented in this sector to get Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) closer to the EU. As reported in the last European Commission’s Progress Report for BIH 2016, BiH still needs to adopt state-level laws on wine and on organic production. It should also further align its official veterinary and phytosanitary control systems with European standards and further upgrade its administrative capacity, in particular inspection services and laboratories.
An agreement to establish the institutional structures that would enable the country to benefit from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance in Rural Development (IPARD) is still pending. The administrative capacity and coordination within the agriculture and rural development sector still need to be improved.
The effectiveness and EU compliance of support measures remain insufficient to increase the sector’s productivity and competitiveness. There is still no agreement on the legal framework for conducting an agricultural census. Agricultural statistics and the agricultural information system are yet to be established and consolidated countrywide.
The land registration systems are yet to be harmonised throughout the country and the land management requires strengthening.
Under the IPA I Programme Framework (2007-2013), Agriculture and Rural Development was particularly supported through IPA 2007, 2008 and 2009 sector development projects. Previously, EU assistance was also provided via the CARDS programme. The EU IPA assistance supported capacity and institutional building in various policy fields, including preparations for management of IPA funds, known as the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance in Rural Development (IPARD) as well as for the establishment of the Agriculture Information System. A pilot agricultural survey was conducted, as part of preparatory testing for the expected agricultural census. There have also been a number of the EU-funded IPA I Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) projects supporting various sector aspects in the context of the CBC programme priorities and objectives, raising competitiveness and growth as well as neighbourhood and regional cooperation and partnerships.
Other donors having been active in the sector are USAID, World Bank, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, etc.
Countrywide strategies are key preconditions for the country to be eligible for IPA II financial assistance. Under IPA II Programme Framework (2014-2017), this policy area was not included due to lack of preconditions met by the beneficiary country, primarily, due to absence of the Strategic Plan of Rural Development of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, its swift adoption by the BiH Parliament is now expected. The implementation of this countrywide Strategic Plan should lead to more benefits for agri-food operators and rural communities in the country because of a more coherent and strategic sector approach, but also because of possible EU financial support under IPA II (2018-2020) to reform the sector, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary, and make it more competitive.
IPA II (2018-2020) funds that may be available to these sectors do not concern IPARD funds. To gain access to IPARD assistance, the country needs to comply with complex requirements for the IPARD system to be in place and accredited by the European Commission for management of EU funds. This may come at later accession stages, following the country’s agreement on the system set-up and advancement in demanding preparatory processes.
In principle, IPA II assistance is annually programmed in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders and channelled to beneficiaries – in case of agriculture and rural development, to farmers, agri-food operators and rural communities as well as to institutions for their capacity building – via our implementing partners, as performed so far. IPA 2018 priorities across eligible sectors, possible amounts and further intervention details will be detailed at later assistance programming stages over the first half of 2018. IPA II assistance will be beneficial for the country’s further approximation stages and its better preparedness, including prospects for IPARD.