Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) held discussions on 16 June 2020 on the level of implementation of the SAA and of approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis in the field of agriculture and fisheries, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues.
The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mrs. Ingrid Jenezova, permanent secretary for the sub-committee, from the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr. Dušan Nešković, Assistant Minister of the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations.
At the meeting, the parties discussed developments in these areas and exchanged detailed trade statistics. The Commission urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to start implementing the recommendations of the May 2019 Opinion and accompanying Analytical Report. It called upon Bosnia and Herzegovina to step up considerably its efforts to enhance institutional and administrative capacities, coordination and legal framework in all related areas.
Agriculture and rural development is one of the key strategic sectors for the competitiveness of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economy and for local development. The EU has allocated €73.5 million from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to help mitigating the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19. From the overall package, € 20 million is allocated to support farmers and rural development under the EU4AGRI project, and up to € 15 million out of the “Special Measure on COVID-19 impact mitigation” will be used to support businesses (including farmers) and entrepreneurs in relaunching their business activities after the economic downturn. The Commission has also proposed € 250 million of macro-financial assistance for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
With regard to the countrywide “Strategic Plan for Rural Development of BiH (2018-2021) – Framework Document”, the Commission stressed that a countrywide sector strategy, aligned with EU policy, is the key precondition for any sustainable reforms across the sector that would lead to EU approximation and further assistance. It is also necessary to speed-up the preparatory works for post 2021 strategy with the support of the EU4Agri action. Bosnia and Herzegovina also needs to make progress in harmonising support measures across the country and gradually align them with the acquis. The Commission again urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome the long-standing stalemate on the agricultural census whose absence severely hinders agricultural statistics and the design of an agricultural and rural development policy. Agricultural information systems have yet to be harmonised throughout the country. The Commission welcomed the progress in the registration of the first applications for protected geographical indications and designations of origin, and encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to bring the state-level Law on Food in line with the latest developments of the acquis.
Fishery policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina need to be harmonised across the country and aligned with the acquis. The Commission welcomed the preparation of a countrywide fisheries and aquaculture strategy, which is of crucial importance to ensure alignment with the Common Fishery Policy and further assistance. Further efforts are also necessary in data collection and statistics, which are crucial for policy planning and implementation.
In the areas of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues, the Commission reiterated the need to align state-level laws on food safety and veterinary matters with the latest developments of the acquis and upgrade the institutional and administrative capacity, including inspection services. It is of outmost importance that Bosnia and Herzegovina intensifies the monitoring and surveillance in animal disease control. Recent registered case of rabies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first since end 2014, remind of the need to maintain control measures in the long run. The Commission also urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue aligning its legislation in these areas with the latest developments of the acquis.