Josip Jezic von Gesseneck    2016-06-01

Enlargement Day at Committee of the Regions on Albania and Bosnia

Albania and Bosnia

Brussels, Regional

Enlargement Day at Committee of the Regions Panel on Bosnia with HE Lidija Topic

The Enlargement Day at Committee of the Regions panels for Albania and Bosnia at the Committee of the Regions reviewed today in Brussels the milestones and challenges ahead in the climb up to the EU accession as well as the benefits of the reforms and projects for the region.

The working group on Albania was presided by HE Suela Janina - Ambassador, Head of Mission of Albania to the EU and Georg Ziegler, Deputy Head of Unit: Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, DG Near.
Seven conditions for Albania have been fulfilled, while the following priorities remain for the opening of accession negotiations:
1. public admin reform
2. judiciary reform: technical support Euralius 1/3 of constitution will be reformed - have never seen such a level of constitution reform
All 800 judiciary members will be screened for 1) proficiency 2) legitimacy of wealth 3) link with organized crime
3. fight against corruption
4. fight against organized crime
5. human rights - properly rights: law implemented on restitution of property, but need to improve the cadastre system

Five cross-border projects, including IPA Mediterranean, IPA Adriatic, IPA Albania, supporting tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, crafts. Budget support e-park, which Albania is heading, implements EU strategy. Further projects include the Public Financial Management IPA 2014, Public administration reform IPA 2015, Employment Occasional Training Budget Support for improving participating in labor market (including youth).

Albania has followed example of Croatia and created a National Council of European Integration. This may allow local municipalities to participate, national and local governments, civil society can participate alike.

The working Group on the Western Balkans recognized regional impact and multilevel actor involvement as two key priorities, including the boosting of weaning regional power.

HE Lidija Topic, ambassador of Bosnia to the EU, reminded the working group that the Protocol of Stabilization and Association Agreement - entered into force June 2015, has seen the completion of three rounds of negotiations since the opening of the candidature. Special thanks was extended to CoR and CIVEX in particular.

Mujo Hadzic - intergovnmental relations advisor, Brcko District at Assembly of Regions - discussed the replication of the Salzburg-Munich system with Brcko and Croatia. There are currently six territorial, three cross-border - Bosnia-Montenegro, Bosnia-Serbia, Bosnia-Croatia-Montenegro bilateral trilateral cooperation agreements.

All the candidate countries were particularly interested to learn from Croatia's accession story including important knowledge and experience gathered from pre-accession projects in education, transportation, and cross-border projects. A key object recognized was to use the existing programs of the EU to involve the youth especially with digital programs with education and inclusion objectives. ■