Serb region’s move threatens Bosnia EU bid: official

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The European Union’s executive commission said on Friday that a decision by the Bosnian Serb authority to withdraw from the state power transmitter may hurt Bosnia’s bid for EU integration.

The government of the Serb Republic, one of Bosnia’s two regions, decided on Thursday to withdraw its backing for a law that established the joint power transmission operator, Elektroprenos BiH, and form its own company instead.

“Such a decision would put at risk the integration of Bosnia in the regional and EU electricity markets,” said Dimitris Kourkoulas, the head of the Commission delegation in Bosnia, expressing his “deep concern” over the move.

“It would also be a step back in the context of the Stabilisation and Association process, given that dissolution of TRANSCO would undermine the earlier-implemented European partnership priority,” Kourkoulas said in a statement.

Bosnia signed in June the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union, its first formal contract with the bloc. Further progress on the EU path will depend on the pace of EU-related reforms and standards.

The office of international peace overseer Miroslav Lajcak said the government decision was a “serious issue” that will be dealt with on Friday by ambassadors of the countries that are members of the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia (PIC).

“No entity can unilaterally withdraw from a previously agreed reform,” Lajcak’s spokeswoman told Reuters.

Bosnian Serb government officials said their decision was prompted by a series of problems that showed the company was dysfunctional.

The state power regulator DERK and partners in the joint company said the move was illegal and threatened the country’s involvement in southeast Europe’s single energy community.

The operator was established in 2006 by Bosnia’s two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, to enable Bosnia to join southeastern Europe’s single energy community, unifying three ethnically-based transmitters.

The two regions are joined in an uneasy alliance under the central government, the Council of Ministers, but are autonomous in decision-making in most spheres of life.

The Serb Republic is eager to keep as much of its autonomy and reluctant to transfer the authority from some sectors to the state level, as required by the European Union.

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