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Bosnia-Herzegovina accession to the EU: opportunities and benefits for the local level

Over 100 mayors and other key civic leaders from all over Bosnia-Herzegovina gathered together on 17 December in Sarajevo to learn more about how local governments could fully engage with the EU accession process, and reap the rewards and benefits for their local communities.

EU integration in BiH cannot move forward in a satisfactory manner without significant involvement of municipalities, explained EU Representative in BiH, Miroslav Lajcak. Over half of EU directives are implemented at the municipal level. This means that municipalities are not bit players in the EU integration process. They have a central role to play.

The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) was represented by Boris Tonhauser who underlined the need for proactive participation and involvement of the local and regional authorities of EU candidate and potential candidate countries in the integration process. CEMR, as the pan-European association representing over 100.000 municipalities and regions in Europe plays an important role in facilitating cooperation and exchange of experience among European local and regional governments.

Other speakers included the President of the Association of Local Authorities of Republik Srpska, Radomir Kezunovic; and a representative of the President of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ljubo Beslic.
An EU reference guide for BiH municipalities was introduced at the conference. It aims to help municipalities address the issues of EU integration and to enable them to make the most of the opportunities and reap the benefits. It is available in English on the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation website.
The conference entitled "Understanding EU: Challenges for local authority" was organised by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in the Balkans in partnership with BiH Directorate for European Integrations, Association of Cities and Municipalities of Republika Srpska and Association of Cities and Municipalities of the Federation of BiH.