The panel discussion on Guaranteeing Local Autonomy in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Sarajevo

03.May.2024.
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The panel discussion entitled “"Guaranteeing Local Autonomy in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina through Compliance with the Standards of the European Charter of Local Self-Government" was held on April 25, 2024 in Sarajevo.

The aim of the panel discussion was to initiate a broader discussion process with the purpose of reaching a final resolution on open issues, that in some cases represents obstacles to mutual respect and cooperation of authorities in Local Self-government units.

At the request of Association of municipalities and cities in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Council of Europe engaged experts who prepared the Report “Guaranteeing Local Autonomy in FBiH through Compliance with the Standards of the European Charter of Local Self-Government - Expert Opinion and Recommendations”.

The report, among other things represents an expert response to the opinion of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the view of the administrative inspection regarding the determination of competencies for making decisions on the organization of services of Local Self-Government units and the adoption of Regulation on the internal organization of services of Local Self-government units.

Vesna Travljanin, the director of the Association of municipalities and cities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out that the panel discussion highlighted the inconsistency in the rights of the Local Self-government units by higher levels of government.

“It is about a number of regulations that are not harmonized with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and the Law on Principles of Local Self-government in FBiH. We have pointed out the non-implementation of the legal provisions of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which was addressed to the Government and Parliament of FBiH. Unfortunately, apart from a few representatives of the Parliament of FBiH and representatives of cantonal governments, the ministers of justice and finance of FBiH were not present at today’s discussion" explained Travljanin.

The long-term goal of the panel discussion was to initiate a dialogue with representatives of the legislative and executive authorities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding their overdue obligation to harmonize laws with the Law on the Principles of Local Self-Government in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking into account the special nature of this law compared to general legislation.

Adelina Džanković, the secretary of the Municipality of Centar Sarajevo, pointed out that one of the examples is the adoption of internal acts of Local Self-Government units, primarily decisions on the organization of administrative bodies and Regulation on internal organization.

"Higher authorities insist on the application of various regulations that were adopted before the Law on the Principles of Local Self-Government, disregarding its specific nature, in the sense that it is a regulation that fully governs the work of administrative bodies and it is an instrument of an international treaty, namely the European Charter of Local Self-Government," Džanković pointed out.

The President of the Federation of the Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lidija Bradara noted that she tries to coordinate Local Self-Government, cantons and the Federation because she believes that life begins in Local Self-Government units.

“It is very important to ensure the support of higher levels of government to municipalities so they can meet the basic needs of all citizens. When citizens have a problem, they first turn to mayors and their services. Local communities are the foundation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “ emphasized Bradara.

The President of the Presidency of the Assembly of the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Mišurić-Ramljak, stated that there is a clear need for local self-government units to harmonize all laws related to their functioning.

"We hope that the panel discussion organized by the Association of Municipalities and Cities of FBiH, supported by the Embassies of the Kingdom of Sweden and the Swiss Confederation, as well as the Council of Europe, will bring good results. The conclusions we have reached today will be forwarded to the relevant authorities to provoke a reaction," said Mišurić-Ramljak.

One of the conclusions of the panel discussion is that all levels of government in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina are required to consistently and unreservedly respect the special character of the Law on the Principles of Local Self-Government in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, according to the opinion and recommendations of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, is fully aligned with the principles and standards of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

The conclusion is that the Association of Municipalities and Cities of FBiH emphasizes and appeals to the executive and legislative authorities in FBiH to fulfill the legal obligation of harmonizing regulations with the Law on the Principles of Local Self-Government in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as stipulated by Article 58 of this Law, by transferring functions, competencies, and responsibilities assigned to local self-government units.

It was also concluded that the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as cantonal governments, will be asked to ensure that when adopting laws and other regulations, they respect the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government by providing adequate financial resources for the execution of additional delegated expenditure responsibilities to municipalities and cities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, adoption of a Law on the Financing of Local Self-Government Units or a new Law on the Allocation of Public Revenues in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was proposed in order to better regulate this matter.

In accordance with the Article 51 of the Law on the Principles of Local Self-Government in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina ("Official Gazette of FBiH", no. 49/06 and 51/09), the Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the legal representative of Local Self-Government units before the authorities in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.