5th EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina Subcommittee meeting on Transport, Energy, Environment and Regional Development

The 5th Subcommittee meeting on Transport, Energy, Environment and regional development between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina took place on 20 May 2021. Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) discussed with relevant Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities the most recent developments in these areas. 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.

On transport, the Commission welcomed the endorsement of the Transport Community Action Plans for road, road safety, rail and transport facilitation by Bosnia and Herzegovina as they are key to underpin the Economic and Investment Plan. Road safety management should be strengthened through establishing a lead Road Safety Agency. A successful railway reform requires fully independent regulatory body, and independent investigative and safety authorities, all at state level, and full separation of infrastructure managers and railway undertakings within historic railway companies. Understaffing in the civil aviation regulator, and in particular in the air navigation services provider, has to be addressed to avoid the risk of safety oversight problems.

On energy the Commission reiterated its call to proceed with implementing the Framework Energy Strategy in compliance with the Green Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. The country still lacks alignment with the Third Energy Package in the field of electricity and gas which impedes an effective integration in the regional energy markets.  The Commission encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to proceed with an ambitious National Energy and Climate Plan with a clear commitment towards decarbonisation and progressive phase-out of coal in energy production.  Both delegations exchanged views on the latest developments regarding the planned Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility at the location in Trgovska Gora at the border with BiH.

On environment, Bosnia and Herzegovina has endorsed the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans at the Sofia Summit in November 2020. It committed to ambitious actions including decarbonisation and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Bosnia and Herzegovina should urgently start implementing the countrywide BiH Environmental Approximation Strategy on the basis of a single integrated plan for BiH and proceed with the development of a countrywide BiH Environmental Protection Strategy. Full implementation of horizontal legislation (environmental assessments), also in international context, and harmonised alignment with water and waste management acquis, combatting and monitoring air pollution as well as fostering biodiversity, all in a countrywide harmonised manner, are of particular importance. The Commission welcomed the adoption of an Action Plan in January 2021 to implement the peer review recommendations on the system of civil protection.

As regards climate change, the Commission welcomed that Bosnia and Herzegovina was among the first countries to submit in April 2021 its revised National Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. However, it could have been more ambitious. The country needs to focus on phasing out coal to proceed with decarbonisation and green transition.

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.