With the help of a magic potion, will BiH and its youth become part of the European Union?

The recently approved opening of negotiations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU represents a significant step towards European integration, offering a number of potential opportunities for the authorities to create better conditions for young people in the country.

The reason why we present these opportunities as potential is the fact that their realization, among other things, is conditioned by the implementation of  14 key priorities indicated in the report of the European Commission in 2019 .

The question then arises whether Bosnia and Herzegovina will really move towards implementing reforms and work on strengthening state institutions and mechanisms in order to become a functional and competitive member of the EU, or are we relying on some “magic potion”. Before we look back at that question, let’s look at what concrete and potential benefits the opening of negotiations brings with it.

Access to the EU single market

An important aspect of this opening is access to the EU single market, which opens the door to greater trade opportunities, greater export of products and services, and the attraction of foreign investments. This creates a new dynamic in the labor market, creating new employment opportunities for young workers and improving their qualifications. Also, access to the single market encourages young companies and entrepreneurs to export their products and services to the large EU market without customs barriers, which creates a more favorable business environment for young entrepreneurs.

Financial aid and EU funds

The financial support that BiH can receive from the EU, especially through the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA) and structural funds, brings direct benefits to young people. These funds can be directed towards the development of educational programs, improvement of youth employability, support of start-up projects and development of the service sector. Also, these funds can be particularly useful for rural development, which is important for young people from rural areas.

European Social Fund + (ESF+)

One of the key aspects for young people is the European Social Fund + (ESF+), which BiH can use to support young people through programs such as  the Youth Guarantee . This initiative, already successfully implemented in other countries such as  Croatia,  aims to reduce youth unemployment and provide quality options for employment, continuing education or learning, where government institutions guarantee that young people under the age of 30 receive a quality offer of employment, continuing education, additionally education or apprenticeship for a certain period after leaving formal education. Bosnia and Herzegovina started planning this program, and the Republika Srpska and Brčko District of BiH created action plans for further action. Unfortunately, in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the action plan has not yet been created and adopted.

Increasing the rating of the country according to international institutions and investors

In addition to the specific benefits brought by the opening of negotiations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU, it is also important to highlight the potential increase in the country’s rating towards international institutions and investors. Entering the process of European integration and active work on the implementation of reforms sends positive signals to the international community. This could result in:

  • Increased support from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which would provide access to additional financial resources and support for the development of key sectors such as education, health and infrastructure.
  • More favorable conditions for obtaining loans and investments from foreign financial institutions, which would stimulate economic growth, create new jobs and increase the standard of living of citizens, including young people.
  • Greater interest of foreign investors in investing in BiH, especially in sectors with high potential such as information technology, tourism and energy, which would generate new jobs and opportunities for young experts to advance in their careers.

Active participation of young people in the integration process

It is important to reiterate that the opening of negotiations with the EU does not guarantee benefits for young people, but requires the active participation and engagement of the government, business and civil society in the implementation of reforms and the adoption of EU recommendations. Only through work on the creation and implementation of action plans, as well as through cooperation with EU funds, BiH can make maximum use of the advantages brought by the EU accession process.

The answer to the question from the beginning lies mostly in the will to work of government representatives, but also partly in the will to engage young people in the civil sector.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have non-governmental organizations, as well as civil servants who are willing to work together with young people to establish and implement reforms, but it is necessary to ensure their participation in decision-making and make their voice stronger.

At the Institute for Youth Development KULT, we support active young people, as well as civil servants and institutions who are willing and able to persevere in creating and advocating for a European and functional BiH in which they want to live. This support and partnership already has its results, and we are witnessing more and more programs that are intended for young people, and which young people themselves have been looking for.

If you are interested in working with young people or you are employed in the public sector as a youth officer (or perform the tasks of this position), we share opportunities that can help your further learning:

Public call for participation in training for youth officers

Public call for participation in training for youth workers from Sturca

Only through the synergy of reforms, investments and engagement of young people and government representatives, BiH can build a more prosperous future for all its citizens and become a stable, inclusive and competitive member of the EU.

Source: mladi.org