Draft analysis of the European Commission Questionnaire on Bosnia and Herzegovina
A team of political experts from American University in Bosnia and Herzegovina has conducted the first draft analysis of the Questionnaire of the European Commission (EC) on Bosnia and Herzegovina's Candidate Status towards its full membership in the European Union (EU).This Questionnaire is a partnership document of the Council of Ministers of BiH and the European Commission, which shows the state of functionality, efficiency and expertise of Bosnian institutions, and their compliance with the acquis, that is, the acquis communautaire.
After the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, by which the negotiating team of Bosnia and Herzegovina protected the interests of the country by keeping the state's natural resources fully owned by BiH, we believe that the Questionnaire is the second phase of the negotiations betweenthe EU / the EC and BiH. It is evident from the Questionnaire that the EC took into account the complex structure of BiH by requiring answers solely from the Council of Ministers of BiH, or from the state level. However, we are now faced with a number of open questions and uncertainties in the Questionnaire, and on this occasion we are enclosing our notes regarding certain parts of the Questionnaire:
1. Possibility of politicization and manipulation of sources?
Political criteria, rule of law, protection of minorities and cultural rights. Statistics and source? Question 446, page 49.
The Questionnaire specifies ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in BiH, if available from sources of official statistics or, as the Questionnaire states, "census or other". Does the term "other", referring to a source, leave room for manipulation or politicization of the structure of population stated in the 2013 census that was published in 2016? (Official Gazette 60/16).
The Questionnaire, on the above-mentioned page, and the question demand information regarding the ethnic structure of the population of minority groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This question shows that the EC Questionnaire officially treats the ethnic structure of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In order to provide data, there must be a detailed database of such information. We ask the following question: Why is ethnicity reinstated in the very center of attention, and not citizenship, and is it based on the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina, on its way to Brussels, is in need of constitutional changes and amendments, especially considering that Annex 4 of the Dayton Agreement contains ethnicity?
It is precisely for this reason that the present Constitution gives priority to the constituent peoples, and not the citizens. The citizens are in the second plan, and this has so far proved to be ineffective and even counter productive and destabilizing, as it points to loyalty and link with the states of Croatia and Serbia by the action of centrifugal political forces. This raises the question of whether this means that BiH will not be able to use the acquis communautaire, taking into account the primacy of the ethnic over the civilprinciples.
2. Destruction of archival census material?
Chapter 18 question 4:
The International monitoring team recommended that the archival census material of the official census of population and households from 2013, published in 2016, be permanently destroyed without taking into account the Law on Archival Activities of BiH, which specifies which archival material has a social, cultural and historical significance and which archival material, according to the same law, has to be filed for a specific time.Therefore, we ask the following question: Why should one destroy the archives that, in our opinion, have a historical significance and a cultural character, since this is the first census of the population since 1991? The 1991 census is still kept, and it will most likely be stored permanently, in the Archives of BiH. We draw attention to the importance of keeping original lists, taking into account the factual proof of the serious violation of international humanitarian law in the past war, where the 1991 lists were used as evidence for the establishment of elements of an offense based on ethnic, religious or other bases.
3. Mechanism of coordination and politicization?
The Law on Public Administration of BiH does not recognize the "coordination mechanism" as a legitimate legal body for the preparation of the Questionnaire answersfor the EC. Therefore, we believe that there is room for politicizing the Questionnaire answers through this body. The Law on Public Administration of BiH (Official Gazette, articles 31, 32, 33) already requires the coordination of mutual relations between the administrative bodies.
4. Regional policy (Serbian example)
In Chapter 22, which deals with regional policy, the availability of statistics for the implementation of structural cohesion funds is clearly required and, unlike Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina received only one question regarding relevant socio-economic data available for each level of government.
For example, Serbia has received far more questions in its Questionnaire. In addition, the EC, aware of the complexity of the BiH statistical system, did not deal with the issue of harmonization of statistics with the European levels and standards, as was the case with Serbia. (source: Serbia, replies to the EC Questionnaire Chapter 22. Article VII, questions 77 to 83).
5. NUTS 3 and GDP calculation?
NUTS questions (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) that define the NUTS 1, 2, and 3 classifications are extremely sensitive. NUTS 1 indicates BiH, NUTS 2 entities and Brčko Distrikt, while the NUTS 3 data that pertains to the number of inhabitants had to be waited for, i.e. census results, and it pertains to smaller territorial units with at least 150,000 inhabitants, and which has not yet been applied in practice. Taking into account that NUTS 3 has not been practically applied, the question of GDP calculation, which is not possible at this moment, is being raised. How will the Council of Ministers of BiH solve this issue? Who is responsible for the establishment and practical application of NUTS 3? Why does the Questionnaire not address these issues?
6. A list of agricultural commodities from 1960?
The Questionnaire also addresses agricultural issues (Chapter 11, question 28); it is clearly required to provide basic information on the latest census on agriculture (small farms, arable land, finances, areas, etc.) and to indicate when the new inventory is to be carried out, i.e. it requires that the exact plan for the implementation of the new agricultural census be indicated. The last census of BiH agriculture was published in 1960 and, as we found out, a new census is not planned. How relevant is the 1960 agricultural census today and how will the Council of Ministers of BiH deal with this issue?
The part most likely to be difficult to answer from the standpoint of statistical data is the economic criterion that is required exclusively from the state level. This part pertains to the process of privatization and restructuring, i.e. the mode of privatization that should be owned by the state (op. The privatization was implemented at the entity level).
Previous suggestions by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Carlos Westendorp and the then Co-Chair of the Council of Ministers of BiH Haris Silajdzic that the privatization is carried out exclusively at the state level was rejected by the ruling party. Carl Bildt left this task to Westendrop, as a position of the international community, although the recommendations of Madeleine Albright clearly indicated that this should be done at the state level exclusively. When it comes to state property, why not use the model of land sales to the United States Embassy for settling the issue? How will the Council of Ministers of BiH treat this issue in its current composition?
In the next few days, the team of AUBiH political experts will publish additional notes on the Questionnaire.
Ika Ferrer Gotić
Vice President, communications
(387) 62 442 804