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A joint approach for better cross-border cooperation

March 04th 2016, Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

MPs, mayors, municipal councilors and representatives of other institutions from the cross-border region between B&H and Serbia at a meeting in Bijeljina, B&H.

The opportunities for cross-border cooperation between Bosna and Herzegovina and Serbia in using the funds from the European Union were the reason why over 20 MPs, mayors, municipal councilors and government representatives from both countries meeting on March 4th 2016 in Bijeljina, Bosina and Herzegovina.

“It would be really interesting to see the how much of the available IPA funds for Bosnia and Herzegovina are actually absorbed, especially in the part dedicated for cross-border cooperation between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia," the host of the event, Mr. Branislav Borenovic, chairperson of the European integration committee in the National Assembly of Republic of Srpska, said at the start of the meeting.    

Mr. Takrik Dzajic from the Directorate for European integration of Bosnia, while presenting the structure and the objectives of the IPA cross-border cooperation programme between B&H and Serbia, noted that: “In the past two open calls only 36 out of 223 project proposals, or around 16%, were selected for funding. The biggest issue is not the quality of projects and applications, but the lack of funds available.”

The representatives of the municipalities present at the meeting talked about their experiences in the process of application for cross-border cooperation funding from the European Union, underlining that the most challenging part of the application process is finding qualified and reliable partners to apply with.

At the end of the meeting it was concluded that:

 -Due to the obvious interest and need for more intensive cross-border cooperation, the parliaments in both countries, during the process of programming, should advocate for bigger portions of the IPA funds to be dedicated to the cross-border cooperation component of IPA;

 -The institutions/agencies within the governments should work on making the procedures for application simpler for future applicants;

 -The Directorate for European Integration (DEI) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Office for European Integration in Serbia (SEIO) should work on providing more intensive support and capacity building to the municipalities and cities. The organization of trainings,    workshops, networking and other types of meetings can help them take advantage of the opportunities offered by the use of CBC funds.

The meeting was organized with the support of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) within the work of the Network of Parliamentary Committees for Economy, Finance and European Integration of Western Balkans.