Bosnia and Herzegovina ( BiH) has applied to become a member of WTO and EU and we are in the pre-accession period.
This shows our readiness to accept the existing regulations of WTO and EU and remove all regulatory–related technical obstacles to international trade.
BiH has not signed any pre-accession agreement, which defines any specific formal obligation in that sphere.
The general political and legal environment in BiH is complex and means existence of:
two entities and an independent district with substantial legislative and administrative autonomy
limited state legislative competency
Also there are considerable competencies of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in political and administrative decisions, including economic affairs.
Although BiH nominally adopted a new legislation, after it became independent, the existing system of technical regulations, standardization, accreditation and certification, as well as the structure of institutions that enforce this legislation, has for the major part been taken over from the former Yugoslav system of technical legislation and only a part of it has been harmonized with European and global requirements.
This system is based on approximately 11.000 mandatory standards of former Yugoslavia. However this is only a potential and not an actual obstacle to international trade and economic cooperation because in practise legislation is not enforced.
For imported goods in a majority of cases, only documentation checks are performed, based on the manufacturer or importer’s declaration of identification and compliance with the relevant national mandatory standard.
We must admit BiH really does not have the system of assessment of conformity of locally manufactured and imported products with legally binding technical requirements before these products are released on the market.
There is no clear and direct state competence in the sphere of technical regulations and there are no state ministries for economy, science, industry, health, agriculture etc., which have an important rule in that sphere in a usual state organization.
There is the Council of Ministers official decision with regard to the establishment and furtherance of the common market of BiH, and the Ministries at Entity level have confirmed their willingness to introduce mechanisms for coordination and cooperation.
The state competency in the sphere of technical regulations could be derived from this decision. Still there is the option of simultaneous adoption of same laws and regulations on the level of both entities, which foresee the same simultaneous procedure for the modifications.
A large number of EC Directives have been translated and made available to the authorities and other interested parties but none were transposed and implemented so far.
Law on technical requirements for products and conformity assessment will be adopted in the first quarter of 2004. and will mean the acceptance of the EU model in technical legislation.
That law will, at the same time, define the distribution of competence between the state and the entities.
That Law will define the competence of the Department for harmonization and implementation of technical legislation, at the state level, which is in its formative stage with only one employee, inside Ministry of foreign trade and economic relations and whose competence is not agreed with the entities.
Transposition of parts of EU regulations will remove gradually potential technical barriers to trade for particular groups of products and will improve protection of health and life of its citizens, protection of environment, and protection of interests of consumers.
The new system of voluntary standardization, on the state level, was initiated in November 2000. with the adoption of the Law on standardization and Law on establishing of the Institute for standardization, metrology and intellectual property. Inside that Institute the Directorate for standardization has transposed 2149 ISO standards, 2630 EN , 539 EN ISO, 347 IEC and 597 ETSI standards. The institute is a member of ISO, IEC, CEN, CENELEC, ETSI .
BiH currently has no defined state development strategy. The priorities in industrial policy, which will be agreed between the entities till the end of this year, will select the respective European standards to be transposed in a very short time.
It should be pointed out that the Institute for standardization, metrology and intellectual property is not in charge of making technical regulations, as is the case in one of our neighbouring countries.
The system for metrology on the state level was also initiated in November 2000 with the adoption of Law on metrology, Law on measuring units and Law on establishing of the Institute for standardization, metrology and intellectual property. The Directorate for metrology, inside the Institute, is well informed about the European model of scientific, industrial and legal metrology based on the EC Directives, including the draft of a new one to be issued next year. For the reestablishment of the international traceability of measurements for the most important physical quantities, at the level of calibration laboratories, according to the need of BiH industry, the urgent investment is at the level of 700.000 E. It cannot be expected to be covered by the state budget.
The new accreditation system was initiated in November 2000. with the adoption of Law on accreditation and Law on establishing of the Institute for accreditation.
All the mentioned laws, adopted in November 2000. were made under supervision of European Commission which implies their conformity with European model.
The Institute for accreditation is based on the work of two employees, some external collaborators and annual budget of 65.000 E. They have accredited 12 domestic bodies in line with the appropriate international standards and 7 more will be accredited in the very short time.
But still the development of the system is not on the level of acceptance by the European Co-operation for Accreditation (EA) for mutual recognition. With the budget limitation the Institute is isolated in Sarajevo with very limited assistance from visiting experts. The team now needs to benefit from the more practical experience of visiting and participating in particular accrediting processes in foreign accreditation bodies and to participate in the European and international associations.
Institute for standardization, metrology and intellectual property should be divided, till the end of this year, into three independent institutes:
Institute for standardization
Institute for metrology
- Institute for intellectual property
In both entities, in the BH Federation and the Serb Republic, some degree of market surveillance is foreseen in the areas of foodstuffs and pharmaceutical products. In the RS the Ministries of Health and Agriculture are responsible. In the BH Federation the responsibilities lie with Ministry of Energy, Mining and Industry and the Ministry of Health respectively and their services for Market and Sanitary Inspection. These services are entitled to take samples from the market for analysis, which in practise rarely happens, due to drastic lack of funds. The framework legislation for this activity is not completely harmonized between the entities.
Serious activities in making the new market surveillance model could be expected after the establishment of new model of technical legislation.
Consumer Protection Law foresees the establishment of Consumer Protection Council at the state level and two offices at Entity level, which will become operational next year.
There is a strong pressure from international organizations on the entities to accept the enlargement of the state competence, which sometimes could produce effects in regulatory sphere.
The entities strong resistance towards this policy is based on the present constitution, which limits state competence.
Even when it is possible to reach an agreement on a new state competency, there is no money in the state budget for the respective expenses, there are IMF limits; therefore some state departments exist only nominally.
At the same time the international organizations spend greater amounts of money on the uncoordinated projects not planned and controlled by the domestic subjects, which provide no visible results.