Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 20 September 2018 for the third Subcommittee under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on Internal Market and Competition, including Consumer and Health Protection. The discussion focused on the implementation of the SAA, as well as an approximation of the country legislation to the EU legislation (‘acquis’) in these fields. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Georg Ziegler from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations(DG NEAR) of the Commission and by Mr. Dragan Milović, from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH.
The Commission highlighted the importance of the topics discussed also for the implementation of the Reform Agenda/Economic Reform Programme of BiH and for the establishment of a regional economic area in the Western Balkans.
In the area of banking, insurance and financial services, the Commission welcomed ongoing efforts towards aligning with the acquis in the banking sector but urged to adopt the amendments to the Law on Deposit Insurance. The legal and institutional framework for public procurement in BiH shows some level of preparation. Significant progress was made in the e-procurement area. Further alignment with the EU acquis is needed, particularly in the area of concessions. As for competition policy, the Commission stressed the need to improve the functioning and decision-making process of the competition and State aid authorities. Both institutions need to build a convincing enforcement record.
BiH is still at an early stage regarding the right of establishment and freedom to provide services, an area which is also of relevance for regional integration. In particular, work on the approximation to the EU “services directive” needs to be accelerated and the requirement of double registration in the RS and the FBiH for service providers needs to be abolished. On Company Law, therewere some further steps in the simplification of business registration procedures, though overall, the legal framework in BiH remains too fragmented. In the area of intellectual property rights, the priority should be given to the effective enforcement of the existing rules.
Finally, on public health policy, further efforts are needed, in particular to improve equal access to health care and to develop anti-tobacco policies and adopt the necessary legislation. The Commission encouraged Republika Srpska entity to also benefit from BiH’s participation in the EU Health Programme as well as from the assessment of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) of surveillance and control of communicable diseases in BiH. BiH was also encouraged to further develop an effective consumer protection framework.
Overall, the Commission highlighted the importance of coordinated harmonisation and implementation of legislation at the various levels of governance in the country. The Commission offered assistance in the approximation process.