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Sarah's speech to Parliament on Bosnia and Herzegovina

March 16, 2012 1:10 PM

Sarah Ludford, on behalf of the ALDE Group. - Mr President, Ms Pack's report observes that the lack of job perspectives, especially among young people, is hindering the progress of the country and contributing to social discontent. One of the reasons I was so pleased to push hard in support of Ms Fajon on visa-free travel for Bosnians 18 months ago - with which we succeeded - was to allow travel for study and business in the hope of an economic boost, as well as widened horizons.

Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot prosper economically or otherwise, or find its future in the EU, without a functional state that can take decisions. Progress has been made, as Mr Wammen and Ms Pack and Commissioner FΓΌle have said - formation of the government, adoption of state aid and census laws, for instance - but, as Mr Wammen said, without a budget, BiH cannot get EU aid. Without tackling crime and corruption and having an independent judiciary, business will not invest. Being an epicentre of trafficking in human beings is a huge shame for the country.

There needs to be local ownership of reforms, but international support and guidance - especially from the EU - is still highly relevant. That is why the ALDE Group is backing the amendment from the S&D Group reintroducing the explicit mention of the '5+2 Agenda' as a basis for closing the OHR, and that is also why ALDE has retabled its amendment calling for the EU to sponsor a constitutional conference in cooperation with the Council of Europe across the road, which has great expertise in its Venice Commission. Thank you again to Ms Pack for a very good report.