EU urges BiH to implement economic projects

18/06/2014

Officials say EU-funded initiatives will foster economic growth and anti-corruption efforts.

By Mladen Dragojlovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka -- 18/06/14

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The EU measures will foster economic development and create new jobs, said Andy McGuffie, spokesman for the EU Special Representative in BiH. [EU/EUSR]

The EU is urging BiH to fulfil three initiatives in order to enforce social and economic stability in the country.

These initiatives, summarised in the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in April, should be implemented despite the devastation caused by flooding in the region in May, said EU Special Representative in BiH spokesman Andy McGuffie.

The initiatives require the country to use EU assistance to prepare a national economic reform programme, form a joint EU-BiH working group to accelerate the implementation of Union-funded projects, and establish a structured dialogue on justice to expand anti-corruption efforts.

The EU requires the country to implement the projects, which will require politicians to accept EU assistance and begin the initiatives.

McGuffie said the effort is part of the EU's overall initiatives aimed at helping BiH's economic governance, strengthening competitiveness as well as stimulating economic growth.

"We will be asking the competent authorities and civil society to engage with us, well before the elections in October, in the development and implementation of concrete economic structural reforms that would begin to reinvigorate the economy and spur the creation of jobs," McGuffie said.

According to EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, civil society will be involved in all of the initiatives, and will hopefully push politicians to co-operate with the civil sector.

McGuffie said the European Commission will focus on better economic governance in all countries in the region, and BiH should be one of the first countries to benefit from this new approach.

"We will assist BiH in preparing a national economic reform programme. It will push forward reforms and actions to tackle the dysfunctional labour market, achieve better co-ordination on economic and fiscal policies and create a better environment for business," McGuffie told SETimes.

Zoran Pavlovic, CEO and founder of management consultant company Havrex, told SETimes that any economic help will benefit BiH.

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"According to information from the World Bank, BiH has the smallest economic growth in Europe. So any support in area of economy is more than welcome," Pavlovic said.

However, Igor Gavran, a macro-economic analyst at the BiH Export Chamber of Commerce, told SETimes that because the main priority of the initiatives is not long-term development, the reconstruction of areas that suffered heavy flood damage will draw too much on the country's economy to allow the projects to work.

"It is not possible to ignore this situation and continue with previous plans as if nothing happened. The necessary condition for sustained and long-term development is the urgent recovery of damaged areas and, for that, we will need more financial resources than were planned before," said Gavran.

What other measures can be taken to improve the economy in BiH? Tell us your thoughts below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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