Representatives of the European Commission and the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on 12 May in Sarajevo for the 7th Sub-committee meeting on Transport, Energy, Environment and Regional Development, to discuss the level of approximation of the country with EU rules and standards in the fields of transport, energy, environment, regional development and climate change. It was chaired on the BiH side by Mr Zoran Andrić, Assistant Minister from the BiH Ministry of Communication and Transport, and on the Commission side by Ms Michela Matuella, Head of Unit in the Directorate General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission.
The Commission stressed the importance of the adoption of country-wide strategies in the relevant fields both for the further alignment with EU rules and standards and for unblocking the access to funds from the pre-accession instrument (IPA) for investments in the given sectors. It welcomed the recent decision to establish the National Investment Committee. Particular attention was given to the need for a country-wide transport policy, and single project pipeline, in light of the Western Balkan 6 Initiative for the support to infrastructure development on a regional level (IPA Multi-beneficiary Programme) as well as for a country-wide transport strategy in order to unblock possible financial support under IPA II (National Programme). In this context the Commission welcomed the constructive engagement of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the definition of the core network agreed in Brussels at the end of April in a meeting of the Prime Ministers of the region.
The Commission noted the lack of progress with regard to a state level law or a harmonised legal framework between the two entities on transport of dangerous goods. The Commission expressed concern over the still high road fatality rate in the country and encouraged to take measures to improve road traffic rules enforcement and road safety. On railways the Commission underlined the need to align its rail border crossing agreements with EU law. It welcomed the intentions of BiH to resume the process of aligning national legislation to EU legislation. On aviation, the Commission is currently evaluating the commitment of BiH for complying with the requirements of Phase 1 of the European Common Aviation Area Agreement (ECAA) by end of 2015. It reminded BiH with regard to aviation safety to fulfil its safety oversight tasks.
As regards energy issues, the Commission reiterated its concerns regarding the lack of coherent strategies and regulatory systems in the fields of electricity, gas and oil. It invited BiH to advance work in the field of electricity legislation according to the Energy Community Treaty. The Commission noted in particular that BiH electricity and gas legislation are not aligned to the 3rd Energy Package. Urgent action is necessary in order to avoid measures which may be taken by the Ministerial Council in autumn 2015 in light of a serious and persistent breach of BiH’s obligations resulting from the Energy Community Treaty.
As regards environment, the Commission expressed its concerns about the limited progress made by BiH in aligning with the EU environmental acquis and stressed the need for a coordinated approach between the various institutions responsible for environmental protection at Entity and State level. The recently completed EU funded project „EnvIS „ (Strengthening of BiH Environmental Institutions and Preparation for Pre-Accession) provides a coordinated and harmonised framework with all necessary elements for a country wide strategy in this sector. The Commission underlined that amongst others more efforts are needed in transposing and implementing the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Hazardous Waste Directive. In noting the numerous complaints received from NGOs related to the quality of the EIA reports for different projects, the Commission recalled the importance of the legislation on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The Commission acknowledged the work done for the ratification or preparation for ratification of several international conventions and protocols. It welcomed the nominations of the Focal Points and national coordinators for ECRAN Working Groups and encouraged BiH to join all ECRAN activities to benefit from the technical assistance provided.
The Commission underlined that the Low Emission and Adaptation Strategy should be in line with the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework. It reiterated that BiH should step up its efforts and come up with its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) towards the new climate agreement to be reached in December 2015 in Paris. The Commission welcomed BiH’s regular participation in the ECRAN programme regarding climate change issues.
On regional development, the Commission underlined the need to adopt the National Regional Development Strategy in order to benefit from EU assistance. The Commission recalled the obligation under the SAA to establish regions based on European classifications.