During the process of accession to the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) must adopt, implement, and enforce the whole package of EU legislation, including the legislation in Chapter 12 (Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary), with more than 100 Regulations, Directives and Decisions. This is also crucial following the accession of Croatia, a major export market for BiH, to the EU in July 2013. BiH needs to meet relevant EU requirements and standards to enable export of competitive products, where applicable, to EU Member States. Meeting the requirements for the export of potatoes and ultra-heat treatment milk and specific dairy products in 2015 has opened additional opportunities for development of the country’s export potential and growth. Such progress is also expected in other relevant competitive sectors and trade related fields of the approximation to the EU. As for the goods subject to the EU plants and animal origin related requirements, the country is already allowed with exporting fish, raw hide, honey and sugar to the EU.
Effective food control systems are essential to protect the health and safety of domestic consumers. They are also critical in enabling countries to assure the safety and quality of their food entering international trade and to ensure that imported food conforms to the relevant requirements. The new global environment for food trade places considerable obligations on both importing and exporting countries to strengthen their food control systems and to implement and enforce risk-based food control strategies.
For Bosnia and Herzegovina, development of a functioning system to implement the food safety acquis remains a priority to increase trade in agricultural products. Official control capacity for the food safety, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), veterinary and phytosanitary fields needs further strengthening.
Through IPA 2007-2012 programmes, the EU has been supporting the process of alignment to the acquis and EU standards in these fields via technical assistance to policies and implementation, inspection, advisory and laboratory services as well as via provision of vaccines, diagnostics equipment for food control, veterinary and phytosanitary laboratories, IT and other technical resources to relevant structures.
Countrywide strategies are key preconditions for the country to be eligible for IPA II financial assistance. Under IPA II Programme Framework (2014-2017), these policy areas were 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 of agriculture and rural development, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary, and make it more competitive.
In principle, IPA II assistance is annually programmed in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders and channelled to beneficiaries – in case of these sectors, to plant and food business operators as well as 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.