Balkanalysis on Twitter Briefing on the EP Debate on Bosnia’s Enlargement Report, March 2012

Strasbourg, France– On March 14, 2012, the European Parliament discussed the enlargement report for Bosnia and Herzegovina, prepared by German MEP Doris Pack. This document highlights the opinion of the EP on the latest developments in the country and follows the Progress report issued by the European Commission in October 2011. contributor Cristian Dimitrescu followed the debate and has prepared the following overview of the event.

In essence, the material drafted by MEP Pack supported the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina, asked for progress in fulfilling political, economic and social criteria, called for strengthening the framework dealing with war crimes, and underlined the need for BiH to enhance its regional cooperation.

During the debate, the end of the country’s 15-month political crisis (which left it without a government until the very end of 2011) was welcomed. The appointment of Vjekoslav Bevanda as Chair of the Council of Ministers is seen as raising hope that while the European integration benchmarks are being watched closely, economic and social issues will be better addressed as well.

The laws on state aid and, respectively, on the population census were presented as steps forward. However, in order to answer the European integration criteria, a functioning state and an appropriate government are needed, it was reaffirmed by MEPs.

The Bosnian state’s institutional setting should be strengthened, while all levels of the administration are expected to enhance cooperation for implementing reforms complying with the Community acquis.

The legislative framework in BiH should be enhanced by promoting a constitutional reform capable to respond the urgent needs of the country’s multi-ethnic and multicultural society. The 2009 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Sejdić and Finci v. BiH will have to be implemented for bringing the Constitution in line with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. At the same time, existing anti-discrimination policies should be better enforced. All the envisaged modifications will make possible the application of the Stability and Association Agreement.

In the short term, the Union is looking forward to seeing the state budget for 2012 adopted, and acknowledging the first steps towards a global fiscal framework for the next 3 years. The creation of an internal market in BiH was seen as an instrument to serve the interests of both workers and investors.

The reform of the educational system should aim to harmonize with the requirements of the labor market, while the mechanism for the recognition of qualifications necessitates improvements. Divided (“2-in-1”) or mono-ethnic schools were seen as hindering inter-ethnic relations.

When talking about security issues such as perceived as being presented by the ‘Wahhabi community,’ it was said that associating the country or certain communities with the (Saudi) Wahhabis is misleading and does not reflect the prevailing reality. Under these circumstances, and taking into account the potential to generate further suspicions, no specific mentions of this subject are to be introduced in the EPs final resolution.

Given the current state of affairs, there were expressed concerns that BiH, should it become an EU Member State, might bring into the Union extremism and ethnic tensions, and could represent a burden to the Community budget. Political and religious leaders were encouraged to set aside nationalist disputes and to find consensus on the most serious problems, in the spirit of cooperation and reconciliation.

The EU will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its way to membership, it was reaffirmed. The Commission will offer technical support to the authorities in BiH to prepare the population census, as well. In light of the latest political developments, officials are expecting the Office of the High Representative to be closed and to let national politicians take responsibility for the future development of the country. Equally awaited is the deployment of the necessary institution for commencing the negotiations with the European Union. is an American research and analysis firm that provides dedicated coverage of the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in areas ranging from politics and security to economics and culture. It draws on the expertise of its broad network of field analysts and reporters representing a number of various countries and professional backgrounds.

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