Address of the HoD/EUSR Peter Sorensen “European path of BiH and obligations of the FBiH”

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Federation House of Representatives thematic session 

Honourable Speaker of the House, Members of Parliament, Ministers, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to celebrate Europe Day together with you – a day on which we commemorate the beginning of a great peace and prosperity project and the work of many men and women through the decades to build unity and solidarity between European nations.

It was a step-by-step approach that led to a strong Europe, to a Union that is one of the largest trading powers in the world and one of the biggest donors.

Citizens of EU Member States could list numerous advantages that EU membership brought. Including rising living standards. Including a voice at the European table – where no nation, even the largest one, is big enough to decide everything. Where consensus is the great prize and our guiding principle, not a special event in decision-making.  

On May 9th we also take time to reflect and look forward – how to respond to the challenges of the financial crisis, how to be more competitive and creative, how to connect the European continent through transport, energy and most importantly – people to people links. Yes, there are occasional dark clouds – but the solidarity and unity of Robert Schuman’s European vision that we see at work when challenges arise, are here to stay.

I know that the financial turbulence in the European continent and beyond causes concern here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But we can take a great deal of reassurance from the fact that it is EU Member States that are supporting each other and finding solutions.

I firmly believe that when the conditions are met – Bosnia and Herzegovina will be a Member State of the Union. However, it is up to you to set out the strategic goals and your task list, to implement European Union standards and prepare to compete within the world’s largest single market – where you can be at your best.

Looking back, the European Union’s Enlargement work has seen a lot of positive developments in the Western Balkans region. Croatia is now on its way to becoming a member in July 2013, Serbia has received candidate status, Montenegro is about to start negotiations. Bosnia and Herzegovina is and must remain at the heart of this transforming region.

The priority issues must be addressed. The conditions of the different stages of this country’s stabilisation and association process. Rule of law issues. Protection of human rights. Respect for minorities. The ‘Copenhagen criteria’ are not about pleasing some ideology unique to the European Union, but delivering on what people want up and down this country: getting rid of corruption, building a sound public administration and, most importantly,  creating new jobs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A country reputation is build on how successfully it speaks with one voice, how well-harmonised its legislation is with EU acquis and how fully it implements it in a multi-level system – at State, Entities, Brcko District or Cantonal level.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has an EU perspective as a single country. However, considering the levels of responsibility foreseen in the BiH constitution, it is necessary that all those levels of authorities work together with this objective in mind. An efficient coordination mechanism on the EU issues at the State and Federation level will greatly contribute to your progress towards accession.

This means, among other things, that the eleven legislatures in the Federation of BiH have to be able to transpose acquis in a harmonised and coordinated way, in accordance with their constitutional responsibilities. For this, a systemic cooperation of Federation parliaments is essential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2012 could be Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European year. Our contract – Stabilisation and Association Agreement, could enter into force if and only if a credible effort on implementing the ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case is made.

It is also very important to adopt the Global Fiscal Framework for the next three years and the 2012 Budget of the State. In the absence of basic economic planning, there is a high threat to sustainability and reliability of public finances and a real danger that some of BiH’s existing obligations to the EU will not be met. I believe it is necessary for State and Entities’ spending priorities to support competitiveness and new economic growth niches as much as possible.

While we speak of the economy – 2 Cs will be crucial in 2012: Croatia’s membership (and its implications) and Corridor VC development. Both could add greatly to a favourable environment for doing business and for foreign direct investments, which will be key for you to cope with the market forces once inside the Union. Both could also be great failures, if Bosnia and Herzegovina does not prepare well to address the issues of export — for example agricultural goods — to Croatia and the rest of the EU, or delays the building of the main artery of Bosnia’s roads.

The European Union is committed to the European future of Bosnia and Herzegovina and ready to provide technical and financial assistance. One twinning project planned for 2012 will also build the capacities of all three parliaments too, provided that 220 mln. EUROS worth IPA package for 2012 and 2013 is agreed by all stakeholders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Enlargement has always been a European response to Europe’s strategic challenges. History has shown that it has benefited both the newcomers and enabled the enlarged Union to make its mark in the world.
Europe will become stronger in the years ahead, because there is clear exceptional political and economic value created through this path.
The vast majority of voters expect fast progress on the EU road.

For that reason, I remain confident that our partnership and our co-operation across Hamdije Kresevljakovica street, as well as accros other streets to other parliaments, will remain strong and sound.

I wish you a fruitful session and a Happy Europe Day!