Danielsson: Task force meeting indicator of commitment to European road

Sarajevo – The Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enlargement, Christian Danielsson, said on Thursday that the first meeting of the joint EU-BiH task force for accelerating projects financed by the EU is a sign of the EU’s commitment to BiH’s European road.

“This also points to the matters which we feel need to be done in this country. I particularly refer to the economy, the social welfare system, promotion of trade, strengthening the rule of law and protecting human rights,” Danielsson told reporters in Sarajevo.

After a meeting of the task force, which discussed ways to accelerate implementation of 210 million euros worth of projects and to how to agree additional projects worth 150 million euros, Danielsson said that the EU provided BiH with significant support and that since 2007, assistance worth 600 million euros was programmed.

“We discussed funds which have not yet been used for the BiH economy and how to accelerate implementation of these projects. These are projects worth 210 million euros, whose implementation is in progress, and funds of 150 million euros for which no relevant agreements have yet been made,” Danielsson said.

He stressed that the task force specifically dealt with eight projects worth the total of 45 million euros, projects in transportation, ecology, support to civil society and others.

“The meeting was very useful and we agreed various steps to move these issues forward. We will again meet at the beginning of April to see how far we have progressed,” Danielsson said.

Regarding the EU’s approach to BiH, Danielsson pointed to efforts in two elements important for the development of the economy and the strengthening of the rule of law.

“We had a meeting last week which dealt with reinforcing efforts to fight corruption. This is additional activity along with the structural dialogue we have with BiH pertaining to the judiciary,” Danielsson said.

He said the intention is to identify concrete activities which need to be undertaken in the fight against corruption, which at the same time is very important for the BiH economy.

“The third element is that we want to start a thorough and overall dialogue with BiH in areas important for the resolution of the problems of unemployment, economic growth and competitiveness. We look forward to beginning this dialogue soon,” Danielsson said.

According to him, these three elements together – efforts to realise IPA funds, the fight against corruption and the dialogue on economic reform – will be very important in the future dialogue and cooperation between the EU and BiH.

Asked if funds that were discussed today include the 45 million euros BiH lost last year, Danielsson said that this is not the case, since they were redirected and therefore lost.

He explained that they discussed funds of 210 million euros pertaining to projects which are being implemented but are not yet completed.

“Funds are not lacking, since I speak of some 360 million euros that need to be distributed. In the short term, we will focus on this happening, and this is why we had a meeting of the task force today,” Danielsson said.

When it comes to a coordination mechanism, he stressed that this is a very important issue which has already been discussed with the partners in BiH, and that this discussion will continue.

The meeting of the task force on Thursday in Sarajevo was attended by Republika Srpska Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic, FBiH Prime Minister Nermin Niksic, the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers, Vjekoslav Bevanda, and the Director of the BiH European Integration Directorate, Nevenka Savic.