news 10 Dec 13

Bosnia's Lost EU Funds Redirected to Kosovo

Lack of progress in reforms lost Bosnia 45 million euro in EU pre-accession funds in 2013, part of which will be redirected to Kosovo instead.

Elvira M. Jukic

Brussels sliced off 45 million euro in pre-accession assistance funds for Bosnia in 2013 and has redirected them to Kosovo and to regional housing programs.

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 told Bosnia to change its constitution and allow minorities run for top governing posts that are currently reserved for candidates from the three largest ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.

Joost Korte, EU Deputy Director-General for Enlargement, said in Sarajevo on Tuesday that Bosnian decision-makers has proved unable to agree on how to change the constitution and, that for that reason, an efficient EU coordination mechanism could not be established.

The 45 million euro 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 40 million from this year's assistance was left in use for Bosnia, 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, 23.5 million euro will now be redirected to Kosovo and, Korte said, 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 seven 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 said the lack of a coordination mechanism will be an obstacle for planning new IPA funds for Bosnia, which could be worth around 80 million euro a year.

Since 2007 to 2013, a total of 655.5 million euro from the IPA program for transitional assistance and institution building and cross-border cooperation has been approved for Bosnia.

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