Full membership in the European Union is one of strategic decisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Republic of Srpska as its integral part which would enable the country to secure its status within a stable economic and political community of united European nations but would also represent confirmation of successful and consistent application of the highest democratic standards and reforms.
Although the process of European integration has commenced and basically kept a prevailing economic character, it also has a strong political and security dimension. Therefore the wish to join the European Union is based on the combination of economic, political and security motives and interests. To that end, the commitment of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Srpska, as well as other countries of the Western Balkan aspiring to full membership, is to fully integrate into the European structures and share their stability. Through integration of the Western Balkans, the EU would make an additional step towards unification of the European continent and realization of its all-European ambitions whereas the countries of the region would get an opportunity to be a part of the European system which guarantees conditions for long-term stabilization and prosperity of this region.
As the roadmap to EU is in fact the road map to reforms in all areas of the society, the state which aspires to the EU membership, is naturally expected, beside being its part geographically and observing its basic principles, to demonstrate the appropriate reform capacity in meeting political, economic, legal and administrative criteria for accessing the EU. Namely, the state should not only demonstrate the willingness and readiness for the accession but also to demonstrate true capacity and consistently apply European standards and adhere to the European values.
Given the fact that accepting EU standards involves the engagement of the whole society and adequate activities of all levels of governance, that during the accession process the number and the scope of the state's obligations increase, and taking into account current obligations under the Stabilization and Association Agreement between BiH and EU Member States, it is necessary to work continuously on strengthening of the institutional and human resources capacities in order to successfully implement the activities from the European integration.
Bearing in mind constitutional position and competence of entities within BiH, it is clear that huge work and fulfillment of obligations regarding European integration lies primarily with entities which makes it of utmost importance that there is appropriate organization of work at entity level which would facilitate effective planning, preparation, implementation and monitoring of the European integration activities.
Preconditions for effective implementation of the tasks with regard to European integration at the entity level include: efficient system and coordination mechanism between different levels of government in BiH with full observation of their constitutional competences, institutional and staff capacity, cooperation and joint involvement of entity institutions, local governments and efficient system of coordination within the Government of the Republic of Srpska, itself.
Efficient organization of work is particularly important taking into account the complexity and seriousness of fulfilling certain obligations such as harmonization of domestic legislation with the EU regulations and its consistent application (which has become a contractual obligation under the Stabilization and Association Agreement, i.e. Interim Agreement), which means that the Republic of Srpska must ensure that the legislation adopted at the entity level is aligned with the acquis of the European Union. It is equally important that the institutions of the Republic of Srpska are included in the assistance programming and use the possibilities given under the Pre-accession Assistance Instruments provided by the EU Funds and that they continually work on expanding the knowledge about the EU and the EU integration and affirmation and promotion of the European values.
Therefore, the Republic of Srpska pays particular attention to adequate implementation of tasks and activities within the EU integrations and the Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation and the Office of the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Srpska have the central place in coordination of the activities of the institutions of the Republic of Sprska in the accession process.
The Republic of Srpska is actively engaged in the European integration activities of BIH starting from participation of the representatives of its institutions in all joint bodies formed between the EU and BiH in accordance with the Interim Agreement and the Agreement on Stabilization and Association Agreement for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of BIH obligations in the accession process, participation in the political dialogue with the EU and the Structured Dialogue on Justice and fundamental rights, technical meetings with the EU Commission and different EU bodies within the EU, thematic seminars related to the EU integrations and active participation in the process of programming and use of available financial assistance of the EU.
With its active participation in this process, the Republic of Srpska demonstrates its commitment toward achieving more stable democratic society, the rule of law, market economy, high standards of protection of human and minority rights, harmonization of domestic legislation with the EU regulations together with efficient and depoliticized public administration.
In order to fulfill the obligations arising from the Stabilization and Association Agreement and to improve activities aimed at strengthening of the mechanism of internal coordination in the process of European integration and accession to the EU, the Government of the Republic of Srpska has undertaken following initiatives and activities:
- Pursuant to the Conclusion of the Government of the Republic of Srpska from 2006, the units for European integration were established within each of the ministry of the Government consisting of up to three persons whose main task is to operate as a contact point and coordinator of the activities within their ministries. They also participate in the preparation and monitoring of the implementation of the plans, and organize activities related to harmonization of the domestic legislation with the regulations of the EU and the participation in the EU projects.
- The Coordination Team of the Republic of Srpska for monitoring the activities from all European integrations has been established.
- Department for European Integration within the Ministry of Economic Relations Affairs and Regional Cooperation has been established as a central place within the Government of the Republic of Srpska for coordination of activities of the Republic of Srpska institutions in the process of the EU integration and for defining policies and strategy platforms of the Republic of Srpska regarding accession to the EU.
- Pursuant to RS Government decisions, representatives of the Republic of Srpska were nominated to the Interim Committee and Sector Sub-Committees for monitoring the implementation of the obligations and duties from the Stabilization and Association Agreement and the Interim Trade Agreement; entity project managers within the IPA I projects, members of mixed monitoring committees for implementation of the Cross-Border Cooperation Programs within IPA II, and representatives of the institutions responsible for harmonization of the legislation of the Republic of Srpska with the EU acquis and other obligations arising from international contracts signed within the Council of Europe and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska, No. 106/2011.
- A decision was passed on coordination of work of administrative bodies of the Republic of Srpska in implementation of activities from the domain of the EU integrations and international cooperation of the Republic of the Srpska (the Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska, No. 47/13.) which establishes the manner and execution of coordination among the RS institutions and that the Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation is the Republic of Srpska Coordinator for European Integration.
- A Decision was passed on the procedure of harmonization of legislation of the Republic of Srpska with the acquis communitaire of the European Union and legal acts of the Counicl of Europe (Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska, No. 46/11, 1/14 and 95/14) which is accompanies by the Methodology of Harmonization of the legsilation of the Republic of Srpska with the EU 'acquis communitaire(Official Gazette of the Republic of Srpska, No. 46/11).
- Every year, the Government of the Republic of Srpska adopts the Annual Plan of harmonization of the Republic of Srpska legislation with the 'acquis communitaire' and legal acts of the Council of Europe and the Activity Report for the previous year and passed related conclusions with regard to it. Action plans of harmonization are prepared in accordance the needs of the integration process taking into consideration with constitutional competences but also possibilities and needs of the Republic of Srpska.
- The Government of Republic of Srpska adopted the Action Plan for taking over the directives of the New approach into the legal system of the Republic of Srpska for the period of 2013-2015 and every year considers its implementation.
- The National Assembly of Republic of Srpska considers the Annual Report on BiH obligations derived from the EU accession process with the review of activities and measures taken and results achieved in terms of harmonization of the laws of Republic of Srpska with EU regulations.
- Civil servants who are working on posts that deal with European integration take continuous training.
- Institutional and personnel capacities of the Government of the Republic of Srpska are permanently streghtened in order to respond to the requirements of the European integration.
Within the European Integration process Republic of Srpska strives to build a society that would in future secure its integration with other European countries which share values of pluralism, tolerance, solidarity, fight against discrimination and corruption, rule of law and strengthening of democratic institutions as the guarantor of preserving and improvement of these values. By adhering to the rules of the market economy and social justice and improving its own capacities, Republic of Srpska prepares itself so that on the day of BiH accession to the EU, its economy becomes competitive to the European economy and ready to respond to all challenges which the integrated European market may bring. Proactive approach to European integration is also supported through all reforms planned in the Republic of Srpska in the fields of the rule of law, fundamental rights, economic management and enhancement of economic competitiveness, builidng stronger democratic institutions and better relations with neighboring countries for the purpose of improving regional cooperation.
By planning efficient acquisition of the EU acquis communitaire into the legal system of the Republic of Srpska and by building efficient administrative and judicial capacities for its consistent implementation, Republic of Srpska strengthens the institutional capacities to assume complex obligations for full EU membership. Harmonization with the EU legacy is planned in accordance with concrete dvelopment needs of the Republic of Srpska and realistic possibilities for implementation of new solutions and strenghening of institutional and human capacities and continous training of personnel would help efficient realization of the requirements of the integration process.
Implementation of set objectives regarding the European intergration process shall be realized in coordination of the Ministry of Economic Relations and Regional Cooperation and in cooperation with the BiH institutions in accordance with the „Decision on coordination of work of public administration bodies in implementtation of activities on European integration and regional cooperation" and in line with coordination mechanism on European integration of BiH. Republic of Srpska would continue active participation in the work of all joint bodies formed between the European Union and BiH institutions through the structures of the Stabilization and Association of Agreement and accession process, in high level dialogues, Structured Dialogue on Justice and the rule of law and other areas, in preparation and following up on implementation of necessary plans for EU accessions, monitoring of macro-regional strategies relevant for the integration process, informing the public and promotion of activities and use of international development assistance incluidng IPA funds.