The 5th Subcommittee meeting on agriculture and fisheries, including food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues, between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina took place on 17 June 2021. Representatives from the European Commission (Commission) discussed with relevant Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities the most recent developments in these areas. The meeting was co-chaired and for Bosnia and Herzegovina by Mr. Dušan Nešković, Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations and for the EU by Mrs. Ingrid Jenezova, permanent secretary for the sub-committee, from the Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission.
The Commission encouraged Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue with the necessary reforms and the development of countrywide sector strategies and legislation. The Commission stressed that Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet implemented the recommendations of the May 2019 Opinion and accompanying Analytical Report, and of the 2020 report. The Commission encouraged the country to step-up considerably their efforts to enhance institutional and administrative capacities, and speed-up legislative alignment and coordination in all these areas. Moreover, following the repeated proposals to introduce full Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) tariff duties on some EU fresh beef and swine meat, the Commission stressed the importance of fully respecting the provisions of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), in particular those regarding the trade concessions made by the parties.
As regards agriculture and rural development – a key sector for the competitiveness of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s economy and for local development – the Commission stressed the need to speed-up the preparatory works for the post 2021 countrywide strategy with the support of IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) as key precondition for any sustainable reforms across the sector and further assistance. Bosnia and Herzegovina also needs to make progress in harmonising support measures across the country and gradually align them with the EU acquis. The Commission again urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome the long-standing stalemate on the agricultural census whose absence severely hinders agricultural statistics and the design of an agricultural and rural development policy. Agricultural information systems have yet to be harmonised throughout the country.
In the areas of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary issues, the Commission reiterated the need to align state-level laws on food safety and veterinary matters with the latest developments of the EU acquis and upgrade the institutional and administrative capacity, including inspection services. It is of outmost importance that Bosnia and Herzegovina improves its central databases, animal identification and registration system as well as intensifies the monitoring and efficient surveillance in animal disease controls such as rabies. The Commission also urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve the effectiveness of its residue monitoring plans and the system of national laboratories.
Fishery policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina need to be harmonised across the country and be aligned with the EU acquis. The Commission stressed the importance to speed the preparation of a countrywide fisheries and aquaculture strategy, which is of crucial importance to ensure alignment with the Common Fishery Policy and further assistance. Bosnia and Herzegovina should also intensify its work on building its administrative structures necessary for implementing fisheries policy and control measures. Further efforts are also necessary in data collection and statistics, which are key for policy planning and implementation.