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European Partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina

The European Partnership – an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process – is intended to provide additional, tailored support to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to realise the country’s European perspective. Its aim is to identify priority areas where further efforts and reforms are required, calling in particular for Bosnia and Herzegovina to bring its legislation into line with that of the Community. It also provides a reference framework for Community aid.

ACT

Council Decision 2008/211/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the European Partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina and repealing Decision 2006/55/EC.

SUMMARY

The European Partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina is the main instrument for assisting the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina in realising their country’s European perspective, confirmed at the Zagreb summit in 2000 and reinforced at the Thessaloniki summit in 2003.

The European Partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina is an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process, which was introduced for the countries of the western Balkans concerned under the Thessaloniki agenda (2003). The European Partnerships are modelled on the accession partnerships with the candidate countries. The partnerships for the Western Balkan countries have Regulation (EC) No 533/2004 as their legal basis.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the European Partnership is to register in a single framework:

  • the priority areas for reform where efforts are required; these are identified according to the country’s requirements and relate to the adoption and implementation of legislation;
  • guidelines for determining the various areas for the allocation of financial assistance in accordance with the priorities identified;
  • the principles and conditions governing implementation of the partnership.

The Council of the European Union adopts the European Partnership, and its subsequent amendments, by a qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission.

The current Partnership updates and adapts the previous Partnership, adopted in 2006. European Partnerships are flexible instruments designed to reflect the progress made by the countries concerned. They highlight the efforts still required in other areas as identified by the Commission’s evaluations.

With a view to achieving the objectives identified in the European Partnership, Bosnia and Herzegovina must adopt a national plan setting out procedures and a programme for implementing the priorities of the Partnership.

Implementation of the Partnership is monitored within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process and its mechanisms, particularly through the Commission's annual progress report, which evaluates the progress made and the work that remains to be done.

PRIORITIES

The European Partnership establishes priorities which are both realistic and attainable goals. In this regard, a distinction is made between short-term and medium-term priorities, which are expected to be achieved within one to two years and within three to four years respectively.

The main priorities identified for Bosnia and Herzegovina relate primarily to its capacity to meet:

  • the Copenhagen criteria defined in 1993;
  • the conditions set for the Stabilisation and Association Process (Council conclusions of 29 April 1997 and of 21 and 22 June 1999);
  • the 2000 Zagreb declaration; and
  • the Thessaloniki Agenda of 2003.

The short- and medium-term priorities are classified as follows:

  • the key priorities are short-term priorities. They entail the reform of the police forces; full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); reform of public broadcasting; implementation of the public-administration reform strategy adopted in 2006; reinforcement of administrative capacities in order to implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA); settlement of bilateral issues; creation of an internal single economic space; correction of structural rigidities impeding the functioning of the labour market; and improvement of the functioning and viability of institutional structures; and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including, if necessary, by reforming the constitutional framework;
  • the political criteria, which include democracy and the rule of law (constitution; governance, electoral legislation, public administration and service, the judicial system and anti-corruption policy), human rights and the protection of minorities (repeal of the death penalty in the constitution of the Republika Srpska; compliance with international standards and conventions, including those of the Council of Europe; access to justice; reform of the prison system; social inclusion; and the rights and protection of minorities, including the Roma), regional issues and international obligations;
  • the economic criteria, which include macroeconomic and financial stability, the acceleration and completion of privatisations, budgetary supervision mechanisms, the quality of public finances, the reconciliation of domestic claims, greater legal certainty for economic operators, better corporate governance and a better (legal, regulatory, tax, judicial, etc) environment for companies and business, and preparations for membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO);
  • European standards relating to the Community acquis as regards the internal market, EU sectoral policies and the area of justice, freedom and security. Bosnia and Herzegovina must endeavour to bring its legislation into line with the Community acquis in these areas and ensure its implementation.

The Commission's assessments of developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina are based in particular on the priorities identified by the Partnership.

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) is the basis for financial assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period 2007-2013. In the period 2000-2006, this assistance totalled EUR 502.8 million (CARDS programme). Under the Multiannual Indicative Financial Framework for 2009‑2011, EUR 440.1 million in financial assistance for national programmes is expected to be provided under the IPA in the period 2007‑2011.

The European Partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina serves as a reference point in this process for determining the different areas where funds are allocated (according to priorities). The programming documents provide the actual legal framework for the financial assistance.

Nonetheless, financial assistance is conditional upon recipient countries abiding by the essential elements which govern their relations with the EU, particularly the effective implementation of reforms. Under the European Partnership, Bosnia and Herzegovina is under an obligation to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and the priorities defined by the Partnership.

Apart from other donors, Bosnia and Herzegovina is also eligible for funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB), principally under its mandate for granting regional loans to the EU’s south-eastern neighbours. This mandate covers the candidate countries for EU accession and the countries of the Western Balkans. The financing provided by the EIB takes the form of grants and loans.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2008/211/EC22.3.2008-OJ L 80 of 19.3.2008

RELATED ACTS

Communication of from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament 5 March 2008 - Western Balkans: enhancing the European Perspective [COM(2008) 127 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 27 January 2006 – The Western Balkans on the road to the EU: consolidating stability and raising prosperity [COM(2006) 27 – Not published in the Official Journal].

BILATERAL RELATIONS

Proposal for a Council and Commission Decision of 8 April 2008 concerning the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part [COM(2008) 182 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Decision of 16 June 2008 concerning the signing and conclusion of the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part [OJ L 169, 30.6.2008].

Council Regulation (EC) No 594/2008 of 16 June 2008 on certain procedures for applying the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part, and for applying the Interim Agreement on trade and trade-related matters between the European Community, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part [OJ L 169, 30.6.2008].

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) [Official Journal L 210 of 31 July 2006].

Multiannual Indicative Financial Framework (MIFF) for:

  • 2008‑2010 [COM(2006) 672 final – Not published in the Official Journal];
  • 2009‑2011 [COM(2007) 689 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Multiannual Indicative Planning Document 2007‑2009 for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EVALUATION

Reports for previous years are available on the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enlargement.

Last updated: 16.06.2010
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