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EU Assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina

04 February 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 04 February 2010

The overall objective of all the EU assistance provided is to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


Financial Assistance


A key external relations' priority for the EU is to promote stability and peace in the Western Balkans, not only on humanitarian grounds but also because the region's conflicts are at odds with the wider objective of security and prosperity across the continent of Europe.

Since 1991 the European Union has committed, through various assistance programmes, € 6.8 billion to the Western Balkans. In 2000 aid to the region was streamlined through a new programme called CARDS (Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation) adopted with the Council Regulation (EC) No 2666/2000 of 5 December 2000. The programmes wider objective was to support the participation of the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, including Kosovo, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) in the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP)

The Stabilisation and Association Process is the cornerstone of the European Union's policy towards the region. It seeks to promote stability within the region whilst also facilitating closer association with the European Union. A key element of the SAP, for countries that have made sufficient progress in terms of political and economic reform and administrative capacity, is a formal contractual relationship with EU in the form of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. The SAP is designed to help each country to progress at its own pace towards greater European integration.

Through the programme € 4.6 billion has been provided to this region in the period 2000 to 2006 for investment, institution-building, and other measures to achieve four main objectives:

  1. reconstruction, democratic stabilisation, reconciliation and the return of refugees
  2. institutional and legislative development, including harmonisation with European Union norms and approaches, to underpin democracy and the rule of law, human rights, civil society and the media, and the operation of a free market economy
  3. sustainable economic and social development, including structural reform
  4. promotion of closer relations and regional cooperation among countries and between them, the EU and the candidate countries of central Europe.

Since early 2005 the Directorate-General Enlargement has been responsible for managing all relations with the countries of the Western Balkans. This includes political relations and the development and management of the CARDS programme.

European Union assistance in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is managed by the European Commission's Delegations in those countries. The European Agency for Reconstruction (Council regulation No 2667/2000-05/12/200) is responsible for assistance in Serbia and Montenegro, including Kosovo, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, and theFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Justice and Home Affairs


Police Reform was a priority in the Feasibility Study and remains of utmost concern to the EU and to BiH on its road to Europe. The EU has invested over € 17 million in state-of-the-art policing equipment, training and support to the Police Reform Process.

Successfully completed projects include a weapons database of all legally held weapons and their holders and the Criminal Analysis Network, a central database where all intelligence data is stored, which is connected to analysts in Police units. The EU also provided and equipped a DNA laboratory and a scanner for explosives, and helped draft a Book of Rules on the manner of taking, handling, processing and archiving biological samples.

Current assistance includes the establishment of a € 4 million telecommunications system, which connects police units throughout the country, allowing them to exchange images, documents, fingerprints, e-mails and telephone calls or faxes free of charge.

Training has been provided in IT, Management and the use of the new specialized software, among others, with further training activities planned for Financial Managers, Investigators, Instructors at Training Centres and others.

Technical assistance provided follow-up of the EU-funded Functional Review, which constituted the basis for the work of the Police Restructuring Commission (PRC). This assistance includes support for the Directorate for Police Restructuring and a planned CARDS 2006 project to support the Ministry of Security in the establishment of the National Security Authority.

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Judicial Reform

Proper administration of civil and criminal justice requires an independent, impartial and professional judiciary, as well as a regulated legal profession and an adequate enforcement mechanism. For years, the EU has provided financial and political support for judicial reform, first to the Independent Judicial Commission and then to the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), which replaced it. Indeed, the establishment of this single HJPC was the first Feasibility Study priority that BiH fulfilled.

The EU has already invested, or is planning to invest, around € 5.6 million in Information Communication Technology (ICT): the HJPC is in charge of a centrally managed ICT system for planning, purchasing and distribution. EU support has included the provision of a wide array of state-of-the-art equipment now in use in all courts and prosecutor's officers throughout the country. This was complemented by training based on the European Computer Drivers License (ECDL) for over 2,000 staff members. An upcoming action will purchase legal texts and publications for the Courts and Ministry of Justice.

Support has developed the ability of BiH Judiciary and Prosecution professionals and has also strengthened relevant Training Centres, to guarantee institutionalised education of judges and prosecutors.

The Registry for War Crimes and Organised Crime, Economic Crime and Corruption started working in January 2005. Assistance is crucial for the transfer of war crime cases from the ICTY to the BiH courts: the EU has contributed € 3.5 million to this multi-donor effort.

Support has also been provided to the Human Rights Commission within the BiH Constitutional Court and, through UNHCR, the EU has supported Asylum Management Capacities, to continue training BiH officials in the Ministry of Security and the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in international standards on asylum. CARDS 2006 foresees € 1 million to establish a reception centre which will create the conditions for adequate reception, accommodation and detention of illegal immigrants.

Within the Land Administration/Registration project, the EU provided the co-ordinated capture and validation of data from the cadastre and land registration, to help establish a future Land Information System.

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Border Management

Integrated Border Management (IBM) aims to create open borders for the movement of people and goods, while at the same time ensuring that these borders are closed for illicit trafficking and criminal activities. It is a priority in the European Partnership, and, in July 2005, BiH adopted the “National Integrated Border Management Strategy Paper” and nominated the members of an Inter-ministerial Working Group.

The concept of IBM includes co-ordination and co-operation of all relevant services and agencies involved in border activities, notably between the Border Police of BiH for migration issues, the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) for Customs and the Veterinary, Phytosanitary, Sanitary and Market Inspectorates.

BiH benefited from the CARDS IBM Regional Programme, which committed € 2 million to help Western Balkan countries draft their IBM Strategy Papers and Action Plans; the CARDS national envelope provided another € 2 million to support its implementation. Technical assistance for the implementation of the national IBM plan includes capacity building for all the institutions involved - including the Ministry of Security, which is responsible for IBM - as well as providing the necessary IT equipment.

Infrastructure - the construction of border crossing points - is part of the wider EU assistance for IBM. Since 2001, some € 34 million have been invested to build new or improve existing facilities. The EU is also aiming to provide assistance to block illegal border crossings.

The Border Police of BiH plays a vital role in safeguarding BiH's borders. To date, the EU has invested approximately € 5.5 million to provide IT equipment, vehicles, surveillance equipment and furniture, among others, including € 2.4 million for a new headquarters building which is currently under construction.

BiH is now a single and uniform customs territory. This is one of the tangible results of the highly successful EU Customs and Fiscal Assistance Office (EU-CAFAO) programme, which has been giving technical assistance in customs and fiscal matters to BiH since 1996. Over € 60 million in technical expertise and equipment have been donated so far through its projects in BiH. These now number five, to mirror the five main sections of the Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA): Business Services; Customs Policy and Procedures; Tax Developments; Law Enforcement and IT. Customs revenues have tripled since 1996, largely thanks to EU CAFAO, which has also been instrumental in the advances made by the ITA since its inception. The ITA itself has received € 4.5 million worth of IT equipment funded by the EU.

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Source: EU Delegation to BiH

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