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European Commission

MEMO

Sarajevo, 27 November 2012

Encouraging High Level Dialogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Poilicy Štefan Füle, participated today in the 2nd meeting of the High-level Dialogue on the Accession Process (HLDAP) with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in Sarajevo today. After the session attended by the leaders of the main political parties of BiH he made the following statement:

''Thank you for the very important and constructive meeting we had today. Our second meeting of the High Level Dialogue for the Accession Process is a clear signal of the EU's continuous commitment to your country and its people. Many political, economic and social reforms will be needed in the next years in the framework of European integration.

I have to admit at the same time that the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina have not been able to honour the main commitments they have taken on themselves at our first dialogue meeting in June in Brussels:

There is still no political agreement on the implementation of the Sejdić/Finci ruling. A model for a coordination mechanism of all levels of government in EU matters has not been submitted. It is clear that this will delay the EU integration of your country.

Nevertheless, the EU membership perspective remains realistic. But the tasks ahead will not change. The 27 June Roadmap remains valid. And I appreciated very much that all the political leaders have recommitted themselves to the very important tasks reflected in the Roadmap and to the sequence of those tasks.

Let me recall that the implementation of the Sejdić/Finci ruling is necessary to eliminate the discrimination against minorities. A credible application for EU membership cannot be submitted before this is done.

This second meeting gave me an opportunity to welcome the comprehensive technical work that has been done by the authorities at all levels of government to reply to a long list of questions on environment and on public procurement. We had made these lists of questions as examples to illustrate what the accession process is about in concrete and practical terms.

The good quality work of your experts proves that Bosnia and Herzegovina has the necessary capacities to work with us in the accession process.

This very important exercise has confirmed what I already said in June in Brussels: There is no obstacle to Bosnia and Herzegovina performing the long accession process as a country with a decentralised structure. The only prerequisite is trustful and effective coordination of all levels of government according to their constitutional competences. Achieving this goal is the task of your institutions and of the leaders of the political parties.

The lack of coordination and the unclear division of responsibilities in particular in the past is also one of the main the reasons why agricultural goods of animal origin cannot be exported to the EU – including to Croatia as from 1 July 2013.

But we all are committed to continue in trilateral meetings the process which started in September involving representatives from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on border management. We will work hard on a number of the issues that these trilateral meeting have identified just to make sure that moving the external border of the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina is not an additional challenge but an additional opportunity.

Let me also use this opportunity to welcome the inaugural session of the State Aid council. This was one of the most important outstanding issues of the interim agreement on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

The European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the first place to the benefit of the citizens. The reforms will help your country to become more competitive, thus creating new jobs, providing better education, making justice more efficient and I could continue with a long list.

It is therefore the responsibility of your institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the political leaders here to take the steps to make it happen.

The 2nd HLDAP has been mainly about new momentum in dealing with the European agenda/road map and I am leaving Sarajevo encouraged by the progress we have made today.''


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