Bosnia Lost Half Its EU Funds in 2013
The European Commission sliced off EUR 45 M in pre-accession assistance funds for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2013.
According to Joost Korte, EU Deputy Director-General for Enlargement, this is the first time that Brussels was forced to undertake such drastic measures.
The penalty follows Bosnia's failure to implement a key ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, the Sejdic-Finci judgment.
The 2009 ruling meant Bosnia had to change its constitution to allow minorities to run for top governing posts that are currently reserved for candidates from the three largest ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
Korte said in Sarajevo on Tuesday that Bosnian decision-makers have proved unable to agree on how to change the constitution, and for that reason an efficient EU coordination mechanism could not be established.
The EUR 45 M that Bosnia lost from the 2013 Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, IPA, was to assist parliaments, upgrade prison infrastructure, help small and medium sized enterprises and invest in transport.
Another EUR 40 M from this year's assistance was left in use for the country to help the judiciary, combat money laundering, aid social inclusion in education, assist refugees and Roma and complete the postwar de-mining process.
From the money that was cut, EUR 23.5 M will now be redirected to Kosovo and the rest will go to regional programs for housing.
Bosnia also risks losing more IPA help in future, which is yet to be planned for the period of the next 7 years.
An efficient EU coordination mechanism, which Bosnia does not have, would clarify which institution is authorized to conduct whatever part of the work the IPA program demands.
Korte added that the lack of a coordination mechanism will be an obstacle for planning new IPA funds for Bosnia, which could be worth around EUR 80 M per year.
Currently, Bosnia is largely decentralized and comprises two autonomous entities: Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, dominated by Bosnians and Croats.
After four years of negotiations, efforts to change the country's constitution are still fruitless due to political bargaining, especially on the part of Bosnian Croats who wish to receive greater protection of their rights.
Since 2007, a total of EUR 655.5 M from the IPA program for transitional assistance and institution building and cross-border cooperation has been approved for Bosnia.
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