Bosnia and Herzegovina reforms: MEPs express concern

Bosnia and Herzegovina reforms
© iStock-AleksandarGeorgiev

The European Parliament has urged authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to speed up the progress of their constitutional and political reforms.

A new report analysing the progress of the state in adopting the reforms necessary for EU accession states that the implementation EU-related reforms has noticeably slowed since mid-2017. MEPs raised specific concerns about electoral corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s October 2018 elections, which saw campaigns dominated by nationalist, populist and divisive rhetoric; and emphasised the need for a functional democratic government.

Bosnia and Herzegovina first applied for EU membership in February 2016, but MEPs have identified a number of areas in which reforms must still be implemented before the country can be considered for candidate status, including:

  • Continued effort towards political reform in order to complete BiH’s transformation into an “inclusive and functional” state in line with EU legislation;
  • In keeping with rulings by the Bosnian constitutional court and the Central Election Commission, systematic action to allocate seats in the Federation House of Peoples and address the remaining gaps in BiH electoral law;
  • Concrete action on previous government pledges to combat corruption, which remains a prevalent issue;
  • Objective approaches from Bosnian politicians and institutions of the events of the 1992-95 Bosnian war and an end to official endorsement of war crimes; and
  • Protection of freedom of expression and the independence of the country’s media, with the suggestion that content be broadcast in all three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian – to maintain cultural inclusion.

Cristian Dan Preda, rapporteur for the European Parliament, said: “The European Parliament remains a strong supporter of BiH’s European integration. But we are worried by the marked slowdown in the pace of reforms and the general political situation following the elections of 7th of October 2018. Authorities at all levels must swiftly be formed, so that work can restart on a set of new EU-oriented reforms, both economic but also political reforms. If BiH wants to obtain candidate country status soon, it needs to show not only commitment to the EU path, but also concrete results.”

The report noted that, while significant progress remained to be made in several sectors, Bosnia and Herzegovina had made substantial progress as a young economy towards market competitiveness and economic development.

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