Bosnian authorities fail to agree on EU-required coordination mechanism

By bne IntelliNews June 15, 2016

The governments of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s two autonomous entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska – and the state-level government, have failed to reach an agreement on a working coordination mechanism required by the European Union, the government said on June 14.

In February, before the country filed its EU membership application, the state-level government announced it had adopted the mechanism. However, this angered officials in the Republika Srpska – Bosnia’s smaller entity - who said they had not been consulted on the move. The entity’s government asked for the mechanism to be cancelled and a new one to be adopted with its input.

During a conference call on June 14, the three prime ministers - state-level Denis Zvizdic, the Federation’s Fadil Novalic and Republika Srpska’s Zeljka Cvijanovic – agreed that the coordination mechanism is necessary and in the near term, at another meeting, the text should be agreed, the state-level government said in a statement on its website.

The three governments have failed to find a suitable solution on the coordination mechanism since February. In March, EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn urged the country to adopt by early May a working coordination mechanism and adjust its Stabilisation and Association agreement with Croatia’s entry in the bloc in order to give its membership application credibility.

Bosnia formally applied for EU membership on February 15 and hopes to get an applicant status in 2017.

The state-level government has already moved a step forward, approving SAA adjustments proposed by the EU at its June 14 session. The adjustments were not well received by Republika Srpska officials, who claimed they would devastate the country’s agricultural sector.

The country’s SAA entered in force on June 1, but was signed in 2008, before Croatia’s entry to the union. Before Croatia’s entry to the EU, Bosnia was one of its main export markets. After joining the bloc in July 2013, Croatia had to leave the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and temporarily lost its customs tariffs privileges. As a consequence, its exports to Bosnia fell significantly.

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