December 16, 2014 / 3:58 PM / 3 years ago

EU to aid Bosnia with $207 million in bid to spur reform

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The European Commission will support Bosnia’s reform program with 166 million euros ($207.7 million) until 2017 in a drive to revive the country’s bid to join the EU, the Commission said on Tuesday.

The European Union agreed on Monday to implement a German-British plan to use the October election as an opportunity to regain momentum and restart the process by dangling the carrot of EU cash and putting economics before political reforms.

Bosnia is at the bottom of the pack of Western Balkans states seeking EU membership. It is hampered by an unwieldy system of ethnic power-sharing set out in the Dayton peace accords that ended the 1992-95 war and divided the former Yugoslav republic into two autonomous regions.

The Commission said it would distribute funds through its Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) to support democracy and governance, rule of law, competitiveness, local development, education, employment and social policies.

“This assistance comes at a very important time for Bosnia,” Johannes Hahn, the EU neighborhood policy and enlargement commissioner, said in a statement.

“It will support the EU’s renewed approach and the implementation of reforms that will directly impact citizens and help the country move forward on the path to the EU,” he said.

Bosnia has yet to form a national government after the October vote but last week’s inaugural session of the new lower house of parliament saw the emergence of a majority pledging to work to spur economic reform and unlock EU funds.

The Commission said it may extend IPA support to other sectors and allocate additional funds once Bosnia adopts relevant national strategic documents.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic

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