EU: Inadequate treatment of migrants could have severe consequences for Bosnia

migranti u bihaću

The EU has expressed serious concern regarding actions of Bosnia's Una-Sana-Canton authorities affecting refugees and migrants, such as discriminatory and disproportionate restrictions of movement, measures imposed at inter-entity and cantonal boundary lines, the closure of the EU-funded Bira reception centre and obstruction to the work of humanitarian partners, stated the answer of the European Commission to the Parliamentary question of four deputies of the political group "Renew Europe" in the European Parliament.

Through various demarches and advocacy, the EU has urged authorities at all levels to enable refugees and migrants to fully exercise their rights and ensure that measures are proportionate to the sanitary crisis. High Representative/Vice-President Borrell, Vice-President Schinas, Commissioners Johannsson, Lenarcic and Varhelyi have been very active in passing messages at the highest level to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities to ensure humane living conditions are in place and the need to implement a functioning asylum and migration management system, in full respect of fundamental rights,” Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi wrote in his answer.

He noted that The BiH authorities must ensure adequate accommodation in accordance with international standards for those in need, adding that the works for the establishment of the future multi-purpose reception centre in Lipa have started.

“If justified, in full respect of European and international standards and legal safeguards, and in line with domestic law, restrictive measures on movement can be applied, also for reasons of public order and to ensure compliance with migration procedures,” he said.

The Enlargement Commissioner warned that effective migration management and asylum is a key priority of the Commission’s Opinion on the EU membership application of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He stressed that the EU expects the BiH authorities to comply with the EU acquis and the rule of law, including in managing migration and asylum.

“Failure to do so could have severe consequences for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s reputation, affect its European integration aspirations and the EU financial assistance. The EU closely monitors the situation as well as the use of EU funds. The EU will continue to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in addressing migration-related challenges,” Varhelyi concluded.

Although the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament in Article 138 specify that each Member must receive an answer to his question within 6 weeks, it took Varhelyi and his team over 6 months to answer this question.