Press Statement on the EU-BiH 3rd SAA Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security

The 3rd Subcommittee meeting on Justice, Freedom and Security (JFS) under the European Union – Bosnia and Herzegovina Stabilisation and Association Agreement took place on 28 and 29 November 2018 in Banja Luka. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Ms Michela Matuella, Head of Unit at the Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for BiH by Mr Igor Golijanin, Chief of Cabinet of the Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

BiH authorities provided an overview of recent developments and their plans in rule of law and fundamental rights. The Commission stressed the need for sustained progress in view of its upcoming Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for EU membership, which will detail the roadmap of priorities in this area for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU path.

In this regard, the Commission welcomes the adoption by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of measures improving the appointments, professionalism and accountability in the judiciary. Still, new legislation is needed on the BiH Courts and on the HJPC, in line with European standards. The extended Action Plan of the Justice Sector Reform Strategy and the revised National War Crime Strategy need to be adopted swiftly. The Commission urged the authorities to put into operation the new State Prison, built with EU funds.

Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to show concrete results in the fight against corruption, organised crime and terrorism, translating political declarations into concrete actions. In particular, the Commission encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt measures on anti-money laundering, financial investigations and asset confiscation, as well as to adopt legislation on conflict of interests and party financing. Police and judicial cooperation needs to be stepped up, including by appointing the National Contact Point for Europol and kick-starting negotiations with Eurojust.

The Commission recalled that it has allocated a total of EUR 9.2 million to BiH to address the increased migratory inflow, and urged all competent authorities to strengthen their cooperation and to use effectively EU funds to provide adequate accommodation to the migrants and improve asylum procedures. Concerning border management, the Commission welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations on the agreement with the European Border and Coastal Guard Agency.

The Commission stressed that Bosnia and Herzegovina must effectively ensure that all citizens can fully enjoy their fundamental rights without discrimination. Vulnerable groups must be protected and gender equality and freedom of expression be ensured, including by following up on threats and attacks against journalists. The long-standing issue of the “two schools under one roof”, also needs to be finally addressed.

The Commission reiterated its readiness to further support Bosnia and Herzegovina in the necessary reforms, including by providing policy advice and financial assistance.