Brussels: EU – BiH 1st SAA Subcommittee on internal market and competition including consumer and health protection

SARAJEVO – Representatives from the European Commission and from Bosnia and Herzegovina met in Brussels on 29 November 2016 for the first Subcommittee under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on Internal Market and Competition, including Consumer and Health Protection. This meeting built on the work of previous sub-committee meetings under the Interim Agreement and was a forum to discuss the implementation of the SAA, as well as approximation of the country legislation to the EU legislation (‘acquis’) in these fields. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr Georg Ziegler from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, and for BiH by Mr Midhat Salić, Assistant Minister in Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, announced the Delegation of EU to BiH.

During the meeting, developments in the area of banking, insurance and other financial services were discussed, an area in which the Commission saw overall some level of preparedness. It noted a high degree of harmonisation and coordination at national level in this field, which is crucial to avoid gaps and inconsistencies that could be detrimental to the objective of reforming the financial services regulatory and supervisory framework.

On Company Law, the EU welcomed developments in the area of company registration in Republika Srpska and in FBiH. On auditing in particular, the Commission stressed that the new EU legislation requires designating one competent authority per country (BiH) to bear ultimate responsibility for the oversight of statutory auditors.

As regards public procurement, the Commission noted some level of preparedness and welcomed the adoption of a strategy for the period 2016-2020. It stressed the need for further alignment with the 2014 Directives. Concerning public health policy, the Commission assessed that BiH is at an early state of preparedness and approximation with the EU health acquis, and asked for well-coordinated work of health services at administrative state level to improve equal access to healthcare, e.g. in the field of transplantation of organs, as well as for the organisation of country-wide anti-tobacco campaigns. On consumer protection, the Commission encouraged BiH to take further steps on aligning with EU acquis.

The European Commission noted that BiH is still at an early stage of preparedness in the field of right of establishment and freedom to provide services. In particular, it called on BiH to intensify work on approximation to the Services Directive and the Directive regulating the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

As regards competition policy, where BiH is considered of having some level of preparedness, the Commission expressed concern over the slow nomination procedure at the level of the state and RS for the members of the Competition Council given the fact that the mandate of the previous members had expired in October. It also raised a number of issues concerning the decision making process, including “ethnic vetoes” and requested to address those in future amendments to the Competition Law. On state aid, the Commission underlined the need to further align with EU acquis and to ensure uniform legislation throughout BiH territory.

Issues related to intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights were also discussed, an area in which the Commission considered BiH moderately prepared. The Commission briefed on updates to the acquis, sought clarification on the state of play, and made recommendations on the way forward.

Overall, the Commission referred to the policy recommendations in all areas covered by the subcommittee in the recent BiH report published on 9 November. It called on the authorities in BiH to agree on a coordinated harmonisation of legislation at the various levels of governance to the EU legislation as otherwise there is a risk of creating obstacles to the single economic space in the country.

SARAJEVO – Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) and from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met in Brussels on 29 November 2016 for the first Subcommittee under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on Internal Market and Competition, including Consumer and Health Protection. This meeting built on the work of previous sub-committee meetings under the Interim Agreement and was a forum to discuss the implementation of the SAA, as well as approximation of the country legislation to the EU legislation (‘acquis’) in these fields. The meeting was co-chaired for the EU by Mr Georg Ziegler from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission, and for BiH by Mr Midhat Salić, Assistant Minister in Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH, announced the Delegation of EU to BiH.

During the meeting, developments in the area of banking, insurance and other financial services were discussed, an area in which the Commission saw overall some level of preparedness. It noted a high degree of harmonisation and coordination at national level in this field, which is crucial to avoid gaps and inconsistencies that could be detrimental to the objective of reforming the financial services regulatory and supervisory framework.

On Company Law, the EU welcomed developments in the area of company registration in Republika Srpska and in FBiH. On auditing in particular, the Commission stressed that the new EU legislation requires designating one competent authority per country (BiH) to bear ultimate responsibility for the oversight of statutory auditors.

As regards public procurement, the Commission noted some level of preparedness and welcomed the adoption of a strategy for the period 2016-2020. It stressed the need for further alignment with the 2014 Directives. Concerning public health policy, the Commission assessed that BiH is at an early state of preparedness and approximation with the EU health acquis, and asked for well-coordinated work of health services at administrative state level to improve equal access to healthcare, e.g. in the field of transplantation of organs, as well as for the organisation of country-wide anti-tobacco campaigns. On consumer protection, the Commission encouraged BiH to take further steps on aligning with EU acquis.

The European Commission noted that BiH is still at an early stage of preparedness in the field of right of establishment and freedom to provide services. In particular, it called on BiH to intensify work on approximation to the Services Directive and the Directive regulating the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

As regards competition policy, where BiH is considered of having some level of preparedness, the Commission expressed concern over the slow nomination procedure at the level of the state and RS for the members of the Competition Council given the fact that the mandate of the previous members had expired in October. It also raised a number of issues concerning the decision making process, including “ethnic vetoes” and requested to address those in future amendments to the Competition Law. On state aid, the Commission underlined the need to further align with EU acquis and to ensure uniform legislation throughout BiH territory.

Issues related to intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights were also discussed, an area in which the Commission considered BiH moderately prepared. The Commission briefed on updates to the acquis, sought clarification on the state of play, and made recommendations on the way forward.

Overall, the Commission referred to the policy recommendations in all areas covered by the subcommittee in the recent BiH report published on 9 November. It called on the authorities in BiH to agree on a coordinated harmonisation of legislation at the various levels of governance to the EU legislation as otherwise there is a risk of creating obstacles to the single economic space in the country.