Bosnia and Herzegovina has on June 16th 2008 in Luxembourg signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union. By this act, it has done the biggest step towards the membership in the biggest national creation which gathers developed countries of the European continent.

By signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina steps into the first contracted relation with the European Union. The task which Bosnia and Herzegovina overtook by signing the contract is to implement the agreed assignments from the Agreement and to continue with its activities and fulfilling the criteria for full membership. After signing the Agreement, the next step is attaining the status of the country candidate for membership in the European Union.

Stabilization and Association Process

Stabilization and Association process is a framed politics of the European Union for the countries of the West Balkans and a confirmation of long-lasting devotion to that region. Main elements of this politics have been proposed in the Communication of the European Commission in May 1999, and the seal on this process has been put in 2000 at the Summit in Zagreb. On this summit, the regional agreement to clearly determine the goals and conditions in the Final declaration has been reached. The Stabilization and Association process, as a strategy towards the West Balkan, the EU has adopted with the wish to strengthen the peace, initiate the stability and democracy and offer a European perspective to all then five countries of west Balkan (Albania, BiH, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro).

Stabilization and Association Process supports the countries of West Balkans in their development and preparations for future membership in the European Union by combining the three main instruments:

• Stabilization and Association Agreement,

• Independent market measures and

• Significant financial support

Stabilization and Association Agreement – SAA

Stabilization and Association Agreement is a new, third generation of the European agreements offered mostly to the countries of West Balkan, in structure of the Stabilization and Association Process. The Agreement represents the international contract which is the central to domestic legislation, and it represents an obligation act for all levels of the government in the country. The frame of the SSA for Bosnia and Herzegovina is already pre-determined and it follows the examples of countries from the region, which have signed it earlier.

The Agreement is being signed on unspecified period with an aim of contribution to the suzerain and political stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Countries which have become the members by the fifth expansion of the EU, have signed the Agreements on Association (so-called European Agreements). The main difference between the Agreement on Association and the SAA is in the fact that the SAA contains an “evolutional clause” as well. Besides that, the SAA puts an accent on the regional cooperation on the West Balkan.

By contracting the agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina, thanks to “evolutional clause”, confirms the status of country of the potential candidate, which is much more than the signatory countries of the European Agreement received regarding the further association to the EU. In a sense of regional cooperation, signatory country is obligating itself that it will sign the bilateral Agreements with the countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and the candidate countries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has on July 16th in Luxembourg also signed the Interim Agreement with the EU. By signing the Agreement, the Interim Agreement inures. Interim Agreement is a part of the Stabilization and Association Agreement which is related to the field of market and transport and includes the market regulations. It will be inuring between two and three years, as long as it is expected to last the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between BiH and the EU in the European Parliaments of 27 countries members of the EU.

According to the significance of regulations which are dealing with the question of market, the SAA is considered the market agreement as well. During the technical rounds of negotiations, the most time and efforts have been contributed into the market regulations and the lists of products for which will Bosnia and Herzegovina, systematically in period of 6 years, be giving the custom concessions until the total liberalization with the market of the European Union. Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoys the one-sided market privileges from 1997, when the European Union has liberalized its market for the products from BiH, by certain limits on particular groups of products on which the EU insists to preserve the quota.

By signing the Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina begins to open its market, meaning it reduces and abolishes the customs on agreed groups of products.

The Agreement on Stabilization and Association consists of 10 sections:

• General principles

• Political dialog

• Regional cooperation

• Free market

• Moving of employees, business plans, providing services, capital

• Balancing the rights, application of laws and rules of market competition

• Jurisdiction and Internal Affairs

• Forms of cooperation

• Financial cooperation

• Institutional, general and final regulations.

The Stabilization and Association Agreement is of a “mixed” character, which means that for the areas of cooperation the countries members and the European Union are partially responsible. The SAA in a certain way arranges the relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the European Union in all three pillars of the Union (European community, economical politics and joint market, Common Foreign and Security Policy and Jurisdiction and internal affairs).

Since the Agreement is of a mixed character, in order for it to totally inure, it has to be confirmed (ratified) in all parliaments of member countries, the European Parliament and the Parliament of BiH.

After signing the Agreement, the next step is attaining the status of the country candidate for membership in the European Union. By then, Bosnia and Herzegovina will prepare the plan of implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which will along with the priorities from the European Partnership in a frame of the Strategy of integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union, compose a Program of integration of BiH in the EU.

In the next period, significant reform processes are expected, so Bosnia and Herzegovina can adapt itself and better fulfill the criteria for membership in the European Union, while will in the same time work on the implementation of the SAA. In that light, the Public Administration Reform, as one of the most significant criteria, will gain even more on its significance and it will be placed in the focus as one of the key reform processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Without successfully applied public administration reform, it will be impossible to achieve the “Common European Administrative Space”, and fulfill the “Copenhagen and Madrid” criteria which are the key for accessing the EU.