The European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) representatives initialled today in Sarajevo a Protocol on the adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).
The Protocol provides for a technical adjustment of the trade provisions in the SAA, concerning BiH exports into the EU and EU exports into BiH to take into account the accession of Croatia to the EU in July 2013 and prevent disruption of the bilateral trade. The agreement is based on the mutual interest of the two sides, takes into account core sensitive products on the side of BiH, and is comparable to similar agreements with other Western Balkan countries. From the date of its provisional application the EU will automatically re-introduce trade benefits for the BiH exports into the EU of certain agricultural products, e.g. fruits and vegetables (so called “autonomous trade measures”).
Adapting the Stabilisation and Association Agreement was one of the outstanding issues to be addressed by Bosnia and Herzegovina on its EU integration path.
“I welcome the initialling of the Protocol for the adaptation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement which was long overdue. This is a sign of the commitment of the Bosnia and Herzegovina leadership to the EU integration path of their country. The Commission encourages Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue delivering urgently, with EU support, on the necessary reforms towards the EU, in line with its citizens’ expectations”, stated the Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.
The full implementation of the SAA, including its adaptation, is an important element of the country’s commitment to the EU integration process. Following the initialling of the protocol, the European Commission and Bosnia and Herzegovina will take the necessary steps for its signing and ratification.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) was signed in 2008 and entered into force in June 2015. Its trade component, the Interim Agreement, was in force since 2008. Thanks to the SAA, 85% of the country’s exports go to the EU. In the context of the accession of Croatia to the EU in July 2013, and in line with the EU traditional trade methodology, the European Commission has negotiated since late 2012 adaptation Protocols with a large number of countries, including Western Balkans’ countries in order to avoid disruption of the existing bilateral trade with Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the last Western Balkan country which now will have an agreed Protocol. The agreement is based on the mutual interest of the two sides. While it maintains the principle of traditional trade it takes into account the core sensitivities on the side of BiH, firstly with regard to particular products and secondly with a view to the need for BiH to limit the administrative and financial burden of managing quotas linked to the SAA adaptation. From the date of its provisional application the EU will automatically re-introduce certain trade benefits for the BiH exports into the EU of certain agricultural products, e.g. fruits and vegetables (so called “autonomous trade measures”). These benefits had been suspended for BiH since 1 January 2016 due to the non-adaptation of the SAA.
Together with the establishment of a functioning coordination mechanism on EU matters, the adaptation of the SAA was an outstanding issue for the country to address as a matter of priority on its EU integration path.
For more information:
DG NEAR – Bosnia and Herzegovina: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/countries/detailed-country-information/bosnia-herzegovina/index_en.htm
- Publication date
- 18 July 2016
- Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations