Bosnia risks losing EUR 47mn of EU funds over lack of agreement on Sejdic-Finci

By bne IntelliNews October 10, 2013

The European Commission is launching on Oct 11 a procedure to reduce Bosnia's 2013 pre-accession financing by 54%, or by EUR 47mn, as the country's leaders missed another deadline to agree on a solution to the Sejdic-Finci case, the EC said.

"The absence of an agreement on [...] blocks the accession path of Bosnia and Herzegovina and hence makes it difficult to justify continuing to grant EU pre-accession funds," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a statement after meeting Bosnian politicians in Brussels on Oct 10.

He, however, added that if a solution is reached over the next days, the procedure could still be reverted.

EC officials and Bosnian politicians resumed the third round of their high level dialog on EU accession on Oct 10 in Brussels, where the Bosnian leaders were expected to arrive with solutions on the Sejdic-Finci issue and the arrangement of the coordination mechanism. Although ten days earlier, on Oct 1, the parties agreed on the seven principles towards implementing the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case, they have not reached a final solution yet.  

The 2009 ruling calls for a constitutional change to allow minorities to run for high-level office since Bosnia’s constitution implies that only ethnics Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats (the so-called three constituent peoples) have the right to be elected members of Bosnia’s presidency and parliament. The EU has threatened it would not recognise the results of Bosnia’s 2014 general elections if the country does not bring its law in line with European standards.

Fuele also said on Oct 10 that Bosnia has not reached yet a final solution on the EU coordination mechanism as well even though some progress was made.

"Until an effective coordination mechanism on EU matters is in place, the IPA 2 (2014-2020) programming exercise cannot be launched. Each year of delayed programming results in substantial losses of grant money, which would otherwise be available to the country," Fuele warned.

Regarding the third main topic of the Brussels meeting - the activation of Bosnia's Stabilisation and Association Agreement / Interim Agreement (SAA/IA) with the EU, Fuele said the EC regrets that Bosnia is rejecting the well-established methodology of adapting the SAA/IA protocol and will soon consult member states on how to respond.

Fuele still underlined the Commission remains committed to continue helping Bosnian political leaders to find a solution to the Sejdic-Finci issue. It believes that "a sustainable agreement can be reached, provided there is sufficient political will and willingness to compromise among all stakeholders."

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