Representatives from the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 13 December 2018 to discuss the implementation of the SAA and the approximation of the country legislation to the EU acquis and standards on transport, energy, environment, climate change and regional development. The meeting was chaired Mr Detlev Boeing from the Directorate General European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission (Commission) and co-chaired by Ms. Brankica Pandurević, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH. The meeting was preceded by consultations with civil society representatives at the EU Delegation in Sarajevo.
On connectivity the Commission noticed some progress regarding the construction of motorway and cross-bridge in Svilaj as well as further developments of Gradiška bridge project. It urged BiH at the same time to step up efforts on implementing connectivity reform measures in the areas of transport and energy.
As regards transport, the Commission recognised the efforts of BiH to improve its road safety records and stressed the need for further progress. It considered of utmost importance that BiH aligns the legislation on transport of dangerous goods with the acquis. The administrative capacities of BiH authorities and bodies, such as the Civil Aviation Authority, require further strengthening. The Commission welcomed the joint declaration for a new regional rail strategy endorsed by BiH and the other Western Balkan countries at the occasion of the 2nd Ministerial Council meeting of the Transport Community in Brussels on 10 December 2018.
As regards energy issues, the Commission welcomed the adoption the countrywide Framework Energy Strategy and called for its swift implementation. This contrasts with the lack of progress in alignment with the Third Energy Package in the field of electricity and gas. The Commission underlined the urgency of adopting immediately such legislation on State level and subsequently on the other levels. The lack of legislative framework significantly impedes an effective integration of BiH in the regional energy markets and represents a real obstacle for further reforms and economic development.
As regards environment, the Commission called on BiH to start implementing the countrywide Environmental Approximation Strategy (EAS) adopted in May 2017 in a coordinated manner, enhance the legal framework, strengthen administrative capacity and improve inter-institutional cooperation. There is in particular an urgent need for better monitoring and effective countrywide measures to fight the unacceptably high air pollution in many parts of the country. BiH has to develop a countrywide Environment Protection Strategy covering all relevant sectors such as waste and water management, air quality, industrial pollution and nature protection. The Commission appreciated the good cooperation with BiH on the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and the active participation of BiH in related regional programmes.
As regards climate change, alignment and implementation of the EU climate acquis require significant countrywide coordinated efforts. BiH has to focus on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, its Nationally Determined Contribution and on mainstreaming of climate action into other sectors, such as energy, transport and agriculture.
On regional development, the Commission underlined again the need to adopt a countrywide Regional Development Strategy in order to benefit from EU assistance. The Commission recalled the obligation under the SAA to establish regions based on European classifications. The Commission stressed the need to strengthen BiH administrative capacities in terms of programming, implementation and evaluation of EU funds.