news 24 Jul 15

Bosnian State, Entities, Adopt Key Reforms

Bosnia's state presidency and both of Bosnia's entities have finally adopted key reforms that should help unblock the path to EU integration.

Srecko Latal, Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo
  Bosnia and Heryegovina Presidencz I Asim Led

Bosnia's tripartite Presidency on Thursday adopted a so-called Master Plan, which is hoped will help kick-start the reform process and enable Bosnia and Herzegovina to obtain EU candidate status in 2017.

On the same day, the governments of the two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, also adopted key documents that are a part of Bosnia's reform agenda as agreed with the EU and international financial institutions.

Experts and international officials have warned that all those documents have to be carefully reviewed to ensure that they are in line with each other as well as in line with the principles agreed with the international community.

Over the last few months, as state and entity officials negotiated the reform agenda among different administrative levels and with the international community, it became clear that different political blocs had different, even conflicting, views on the future.

The Serbian member of Bosnia's presidency, Mladen Ivanic, told the media after the presidency session in Sarajevo on Thursday that the Master Plan includes key principles, goals and deadlines for future reforms.

However, he said that negotiations are continuing on the Action Plan, a specific document comprising the list of reforms agreed with the EU, the World Bank and the IMF.

Almost at the same time, the Federation entity government adopted changes to the disputed Labour Law, which was one of the key measures in the package of reforms demanded by the IMF. The Federation parliament will vote on the issue next week.  

Trade unions reacted promptly, accusing the Federation Prime Minister Fadil Novalic of ignoring the demands of the workers and misleading the public with statements that the new law will better conditions for workers. They announced protests as soon as possible.  

“Our next meeting...will be in front of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the unions said.

Meanwhile in Banja Luka, the government of Republika Srpska adopted its own reform agenda for the period of 2015-2018.

According to a statement, the package regulates public finances, tax and fiscal sustainability, the business climate, the labour market, social protection, pensions and other key issues.

However, it is still not clear whether Bosnia has finally made a key step on the path to the EU membership, or if the different administrative levels have started moving in different directions.

Some months ago, leaders have agreed with the EU and international financial institutions that Bosnia would obtain new financial support from the IMF in September if the state and the two entities agreed on a joint set of reforms that were acceptable to EU, and if both entities modernized their labour regulations.

None of these conditions have been met so far, which is why Bosnia is facing a serious liquidity crisis in coming months if no new sources of funding are found.

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