Supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina towards alignment to the European standards is the task of the utmost importance for both European Union and the Council of Europe. Through successful implementation of the Joint Programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey” benefits for the citizens have become notable, it was concluded during the third Beneficiary Steering Committee Meeting of this Joint Programme of the European Union and Council of Europe.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted today the final Steering Committee meeting of the Programme with the aim to take stock of the results of the programme and it gathered representatives of the beneficiary institutions directly involved in the implementation of this programme, such as the Ministries of Justice at the state and entities level, the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman, Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of BiH and Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH.
Almir Sahovic, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out the importance of co-operation between the European Union, Council of Europe and the national authorities in the EU accession process of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This Programme brings the country closer to the European standards and the results of the projects implemented within the Horizontal Facility will also be reflected in the European Commission Opinion on the country's EU membership application”, said Sahovic.
“Thanks to its result-oriented focus, this Programme has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of key reforms in compliance with European standards and its flexibility allowed quick response to the newly identified needs on the ground”, said Verena Taylor, Director of the Office of the Directorate General of Programmes of the Council of Europe and added “This Programme’s achievements are important because they have a direct impact on lives of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also because they contribute to the European integration of the country”.
Nicolas Bizel, Head of Operations Section for Justice and Home Affairs and Public Administration Reform of the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that consistent co-operation and co-ordination with all stakeholders - beneficiaries, European Union and the Council of Europe is the key element of all Horizontal Facility actions. He also highlighted that the expertise of the Council of Europe is fundamental as it can really assist the country in its key reforms in its accession process. In this regard the “Expertise co-ordination mechanism which provides legal and policy advice is very important and should be used even more in the next phase of implementation”, noted Bizel.
The three-year Horizontal Facility (May 2016 – May 2019) aims to assist authorities in South-East Europe to achieve greater compliance with European standards in three key areas: ensuring justice, fighting corruption, economic crime and organised crime, as well as combating discrimination and the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, EUR 2.7 million are allocated for four projects: Enhancing human rights protection for detained and sentenced persons; Strengthening the Human Rights Ombudsman to fight discrimination; Quality Education in multi-ethnic societies and Strengthening the protection of national minorities.