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Committees on European Integration from the Western Balkans meet on Jahorina

17 September 2014, Jahorina, B&H

On October 17th 2014, the chairpersons and deputy-chairpersons of the Committees on European Integration from six parliaments from the Western Balkans were part of a multilateral meeting that took place on Jahorina, B&H. The meeting is a part of the activities of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Network of Parliamentary Committees on Economy, Finance and European integration of the Western Balkans (NPC).

The aim of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for the representatives from different parliaments to discuss the oversight activities of the Committees on European Integration in terms of spending IPA funds, objectives and structure of IPA II financial framework for 2014-2020, as well as the cooperation with COSAP initiative.

At the beginning of the meeting, MPs had the opportunity to present experiences and oversight practices in their parliaments in regard to the use of IPA funds, as well as the role of the Committee on European Integration in that process. The chairperson of the Committee for European Integration and Regional Cooperation of the National Assembly of Republic of Srpska, Mr. Branislav Borenovic, stated:

Although I am satisfied with the way the funds have been used so far, it is always beneficial to hear about and share positive experiences with our fellow colleagues from the region, especially now when the Western Balkans for the period 2014-2020 will have  on disposal 11 billion EUR from the IPA II framework.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we made a big step forward by establishing the Forum for Parliamentary Cooperation on European Integration. This Forum brings together the European Integration committees from all of the parliaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The Chairperson of the Committee on European Integration in the Parliament of Montenegro, Mr. Slaven Radunovic, talked about the role of the Committee in monitoring the spending of the IPA funds, pointing out that the Committee is an active and constructive participant in the integration process, not only through the consideration of the draft negotiating positions, but also through the review of documents about the achieved progress in the use of available financial and technical EU aid.

During the discussion, MPs agreed that parliaments can provide a significant stimulus to existing processes of the IPA funds use, in a way that they would improve oversight of the expenditure of fund.

In the second part of the meeting, Mr. Jan Schneidauf and Mr. Martin Schieder representatives of the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented the IPA II, the financial instrument for the period 2014- 2020. They pointed out that IPA II brings a new strategic approach, i.e. focus of projects on a smaller number of activities that will bring reforms in key sectors of democratic governance, rule of law, competition and economic growth.

During the last session, parliamentarians discussed the possibilities for cooperation between COSAP Initiative and the Network of Parliamentary Committees on Economy, Finance and European integration of the Western Balkans. Participants agreed on the need for establishment of formalized cooperation among the committees on European Integration of the states in the region, in the form of a regional project directed towards a complete understanding of the potential for the use of IPA II financial instrument funds.