Thursday, February 21, 2008


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (February 21,2008) - The European Union and Bosnia signed an agreement yesterday in the Bosnian capital sarajevo providing Bosnia with 440 million Euros (645 million US Dollars) aimed at helping reforms and bolstering the Bosnian economy.

"This is a very clear sign and demonstration of EU confidence and support," EU enlargement official Pierre Mirel told reporters after the signing ceremony.

Mirel, the head of the 27-nation bloc's enlargement department for the Western Balkans, signed the agreement with Bosnia'S Prime Minister Nikola Spiric.

Mirel said the new assistance instrument to countries that are potential candidates will assess each of them according to their needs and evolution, monitoring institution building, cross-border cooperation, regional development and other.

"The new assistance the European Union is providing is not in the form of credits but in the form of grants," he said.

The funds are for the 2007-2011 period and are meant to help implement reforms needed to meet EU standards and help Bosnia make progress in EU integration, said Mirel.

The grant comes under EU pre-accession funds available after Bosnia in December initialled its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), seen as the first step towards full EU membership.

Bosnia was expected to start implementing the reforms and formally sign the SAA deal in the first half of 2008.

Key police reforms were a condition set by the European Union before the membership process could begin.

In order to complete the signing, Bosnia must implement them and show progress in reforming public media and cooperation with The Hague-based UN war crimes tribunal.

However, the leaders of Bosnia's ruling political parties are yet to agree on laws defining the police reforms.

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