2014: a new beginning for Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Article published on April 13, 2012
Article published on April 13, 2012
By Francesca Cerri There is light but there is also shadow in the present and in the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Necessary constitutional changes need to be undertaken in order to enable the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
Hence, the new Council of Ministers need to concentrate on the pressing European integration agenda and take the necessary action to ensure concrete steps forward.

Recently, the Commissioner of DG Enlargement, Štefan Füle, underlined that the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina is within reach.

On the 28 of March, during his key address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zlatko Lagumdzija, stated that his country is committed to becoming fully integrated into the European and Euro-Atlantic communities. These two memberships, EU and NATO, are seen as the two leading tools to be included militarally, economically and politically in broader structures, and to foster economic and social cohesion within the country itself.

In order to speed up the progress towards the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina must make a credible effort to adopt the necessary reforms to increase political stability, strengthen democratic institutions and improve economy. The last European Parliament resolution on the 2011 progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes the “european perspectives” but underlines that little has been achieved.

Constitutional reform remains the key reform for the transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina into an effective and fully functional state. Particularly, bringing the Constitution into compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights in line with the Sejdić-Finci ruling of the European Court of Human Rights; and adopting the 2012 State budget law to ensure the financing of key institutions that play a role in EU integration (such as the Anti-Corruption Agency). It is also essential that all authorities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina provide the necessary follow-up to the recommendations issued under the “EU - Bosnia and Herzegovina Structured Dialogue on Justice” and effectively implement all the reforms undertaken under the visa liberalisation dialogue. Additionally, a co-ordination mechanism for EU matters needs to be established as a matter of urgency.

Despite a year of stagnation, there is now a new positive momentum on the European Union agenda in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A State aid law and a law on the population census were adopted and a new state level government has taken up work in February. The new chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Vjekoslav Bevanda, has put EU integration at the forefront of his government programme.

The next two years appear to be crucial for a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, divided in 2 entities, characterized by 3 major ethnic groups and broken down by 5 levels of government. Yet, the prospect of EU membership is one of the most unifying factors amongst the people of the country, giving change a chance to happen.