EU Special Representative: Rule of law fundamental to EU membership

Source: Fena

The rule of law is one of the fundamental conditions for EU membership and in that context, Bosnia must do more to stop the negative trends, EU Delegations Johann Sattler said Wednesday in Sarajevo, at the “Right to justice” debate, organised by the EU Delegation to Bosnia and the EU's Office of the Special Representative to discuss the fundamental aspects of the rule of law in the country.

Sattler said the EU is ready to continue supporting Bosnia but that the implementation of certain reforms and processes is an obligation of the local authorities. The aim of these reforms, he said, is to equal rights to all citizens.  

He recalled that most Bosnians support Bosnia's EU path, but also the enormous decline in confidence in the judiciary and the perception of citizens in which judicial institutions are ranked among the most corrupt.  

At the same time, Sattler said that Bosnian authorities must include the citizens in these processes since the State institutions are theirs and should be in their service.  

EU's independent legal expert Reinhard Priebe also addressed the participants of the debate noting the frustration caused by the lack of progress in Bosnia's judiciary because the same issues as in the 2000s are still present. He said that he got the impression that there are serious issues regarding the rule of law in Bosnia, pointing to the need for a decisive engagement of everyone involved in these processes.   The legal expert concluded that there is still a lack of political will in this regard despite efforts to change things.  

“The rule of law is not primarily linked to the fulfilment of tasks in the accession process. It is a safe framework for citizens and their wellbeing, to create a prosperous future for their families within their country. Many youths are leaving this country, not because of the economic reasons, but because of the lack of legal certainty,” Priebe warned.  

Michaela Matuella, Head of the Unit for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, EC), emphasized the importance of urgent action and the need for building a strong judiciary and an effective fight against organized crime and corruption.

She stressed that there is no time to waste and that Bosnia must achieve conditions in which every citizen will have equal access to justice.