On 12 May 2015, the Finance Ministers of the EU, of the candidate countries and of the potential candidate countries adopted recommendations to ensure sound public finances and to increase competitiveness and long-term growth in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
“The enhanced economic reform programmes are an excellent tool to push competitiveness, long-term growth and structural reforms in the Western Balkan and Turkey. I welcome in particular the positive response to this exercise both in our partner countries and within the EU. Now the time has come for all countries to implement these reforms to the benefit of their citizens,” said Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.
The recommendations published on 12th May 2015 are based on Economic Reform Programmes (ERP), which the countries’ authorities developed at the request of the European Commission and submitted at the end of January. The programmes have a three year horizon and focus on the macroeconomic and fiscal policy framework and – for the first time – also on sectoral structural reforms, for instance regarding infrastructure, education and employment, industrial structures, business environment and trade integration. The exercise is to be repeated annually. It is meant to help the EU’s enlargement partners gradually meet the economic criteria for the EU accession and to build capacity to prepare for reporting obligations under the EU economic surveillance.
At the same time, following the Council Conclusions of December 2014 and the Written Commitment subsequently signed by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s party leaders and endorsed by the Parliament, Bosnia and Herzegovina is now engaged in its own exercise to define a comprehensive and complementary initial reform agenda, particularly focusing on much-needed socio-economic reforms. At a meeting in Jahorina on Monday 11th May, representatives of the EU Delegation/EUSR and the European Commission underlined the EU’s commitment to stand alongside Bosnia and Herzegovina and provide assistance in the process. This reform process would also directly feed into the cycle for the next annual ERP.
The recommendations made on 12th May will be reflected in the 2015 Enlargement Package which will take stock of further progress following today’s ECOFIN Council, and will also be a basis for assessment of the 2016 ERP .
ST/ photo turkishweekly