TACSO BIH supports further development of the network Citizens for Europe

Within the Programme for initiatives, networks, alliances, coalitions and platforms of civil society organizations (CSOs) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, advertised by TASCO BiH office in May this year, three initiatives of civil society organisations were supported including the network Citizens for Europe.

Citizens for Europe is a network of 26 NGOs from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina, that secures regular contribution to the European integration processes through the monitoring of progress made and enhancing dialogue between the civil society and decision makers in the following sectors: Rural Development and Agriculture, Energy and the Environment and Labour and Employment. The network was created as an Initiative of the European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, coordinated the Association of Vesta. Upon the successful three years of operation the ownership over the Initiative was entrusted to local organisation Vesta, by the Office of Special Representative. The Citizens for Europe keep informing the public about the progress made and needed to move Bosnia and Herzegovina forward on its European path, upon regular consultations with the citizens and governmental officials in sectors of concern.

With the technical assistance of the TACSO BiH office, sectoral groups have been working on defining guidelines for internal and external communication during the July 2014. This important aspect for the efficient communication has been successfully agreed upon and will provide impartial and objective response of the Citizen for Europe to the BH problems that arise in the process of European integration, related to previously defined priority sectors. The workshop enabled the creation of tools which required consensus of network members about the contents of the Citizen for Europe reactions and simultaneously limited the possible abuse and representation of individual interests as a network interest.

In September, TASCO BiH has supported the Network in the process of redefining the strategic orientations of the network and operational plans. Having in mind the fact that members of the network Citizens for Europe monitor the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina towards European Union integrations, this workshop has enabled a brief analysis of the current situation by the experts from the represented member organisations based on which the priorities for further actions were defined.

In the area of the Rural development and agriculture, members agreed that Bosnia and Herzegovina has not recorded the needed progress, highlighting the necessity of the intensified dialogue in defining the strategic framework for Rural Development and IPARD structures. The Network members will strive for the improvements to be made in the next programming phase related to the BiH access to the European Union, through the IPA II instrument, by emphasizing the proper funds allocation for rural development as a precondition for the supportive environment to be created. The Network members will simultaneously work with relevant stakeholders to inform the public about the importance and urgent need for the progress in this valuable sector.

The member organisations, more engaged in the Energy and the environment sector will intensify their advocacy actions towards strategic positioning and establishing mechanisms for compliance to be made in the national legislation in accordance with the EU legislation. Furthermore, the members of the sectoral group decided to increase its intervention, asking for the creation and adoption of strategic documents on municipal and cantonal level, concerning the waste disposal, as a precondition for reducing the risk of flooding.

In response to the burning issues in the Labour and employment sector, in line with EU practices and taking into account the conclusions of the Forum for prosperity and employment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the members will strategically focus on improving the business environment with continuous harmonization of policies with the EU legislation and the promotion and enhancement of cooperation, partnership and coordination of key stakeholders in the field of labour and employment.

After the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Citizens for Europe network intend to invite relevant government institutions and the newly elected officials and parliamentarians to participate in multi-sectoral working session that will address the key problems in the process of European integration, related to Rural development and agriculture, Energy and environment and Labour and employment. Citizens for Europe supported through technical assistance of TASCO BIH office will open dialogue for key issues to be tackled and concrete progress in the European integration processes and seek public commitment of newly elected officials to resolve the accumulated problems. By the regular monitoring of activities of relevant ministries and agencies, the network intends to continue to inform the public about progress in these three sectors, and indicate the consequences of slow actions and failure to achieve the expected reforms.