No Agreement on Bosnia's Coordination Mechanism

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Jun 10 2016

Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic, and the Prime Ministers of the country’s two political entities, Republika Srpska’s [RS] Zeljka Cvijanovic and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s [FBiH] Fadil Novalic, still couldn't agree on the adoption of a coordination mechanism between Bosnian institutions.
The agreement is  a central component of the country’s efforts to become an EU ascension candidate.

"This is a complex question and it requires a lot of agreements,” Zvizdic said after the meeting, adding that the negotiations "have now entered their final phase”. He also announced that a new meeting will be organised for next Monday.

Tuesday's meeting was seen as potentially decisive, as all three representatives told Bosnian media that the agreement is near.

Jamila Milovic Halilovic, spokesperson of the EU mission to Bosnia, explained to BIRN that after the entry in full force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement [SAA] in 2015, large amounts of legislation and standards in Bosnia need to be brought in line with those of the European Union.

“A well-functioning coordination on EU matters is a practical necessity for Sarajevo's European integration process … to ensure domestic legislation harmonisation with the EU acquis [the whole body of law], effective implementation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession [IPA] and facilitate the implementation of all other EU related matters,” Milovic Halilovic stressed, adding that “the efficiency and political viability of any model will be tested when it is implemented.”

“The EU will closely follow this, since it is otherwise not possible to arrive at many of the common positions required to work with the EU,” said Milovic Halilovic.

Bosnian Council of Ministers had already adopted a law about the coordination mechanism at the end of January, without publicly announcing it, a move that stunned Bosnian public opinion and angered the RS government, which resented being excluded from the negotiations.

“The first version approved back in January was just a move played by Dragan Covic [Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency at the time] in order to have some cosmetic changes to support the Bosnian application to the EU, which was given a couple of weeks later,” Ivana Maric, a political analyst based in Sarajevo, told BIRN.

In the last several months, government heads at both the state and entity level have been trying to create a consensus on the functioning of the coordination mechanism.

During a press conference on Monday, Denis Zvizdic reiterated that the most important principle under which the mechanism will function is that whoever presides over it will only be allowed to present to the EU "material which has been previously approved by everybody” to reassure "those who fear being outvoted."

Approving the coordination mechanism is one of many conditions EU has required in order to consider Bosnia's application credible, together with the update of the SAA and the publication of the results of 2013 census.

"If we succeed in updating the SAA and adopting a coordination mechanism, than we can expect that the EU to accept our application at next meeting of the Council of the European Union to held on July 13,” Dragan Covic told Bosnian media on Monday.

Rodolfo Toe