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DSEE: Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo

The European Parliament has one delegation devoted to developing relations with elected representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Kosovo.

While the same delegation - officially named the Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo (DSEE) - works with both countries, it does so in two, distinct forums.

Parliamentarians from the two countries and MEPs work together in joint "Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committees" (abbreviated as SAPCs): the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina SAPC and the EU-Kosovo SAPC.

Legal basis

For many years members of the European Parliament met with elected representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from Kosovo in informal "Inter-Parliamentary Meetings" (IPMs).

Once the Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) entered into force between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina (in 2015) and between the EU and Kosovo (in 2016), the European Parliament altered the forum for developing bilateral contacts based on international law (the SAAs).

The SAPCs have the same status as the "Joint Parliamentary Committees" that are in place for some other enlargement countries. The Stabilisation and Association Agreements spelled out this change:

"A political dialogue at parliamentary level shall take place within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee".

Composition

This section will be updated after the constitution of the delegation for the 9th EP parliamentary term.

Procedure

The Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committees normally meet twice a year, either in the European Parliament's buildings (usually in Strasbourg) or in the partner country.

Each meeting lasts normally for two half days and includes representatives of the governments, the European Commission and the European External Action Service as guests.

An agenda of each meeting usually focuses on 5-8 topics important to bilateral relations.

Each of the topics is introduced by a "first speaker", who is a SAPC member. These introductions are followed by exchanges of views with all the committee members.

The committees work to adopt a "declaration and recommendations" that are issued at the close of the meeting.

The Co-Chairs also hold a press conference after all the sessions have concluded.

Public meetings

Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committees meetings are public.

Minutes of the committee meetings are adopted at the following meeting, and audio recordings of the meetings are available on request. Some meetings may be web-streamed on the website of the European Parliament or the partner parliaments.

Distinct paths for the two committees

The EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee has met regularly and adopted recommendations at most of its meetings.

In contrast, the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina SAPC is frozen, because it was not possible to adopt the Committee's "Rules of Procedure" (RoP) at its first meeting.

Although MEPs attempted to solve the disagreement concerning the RoP multiple times, the delegation from Bosnia and Herzegovina has so far not agreed to a compromise, that would meet the standards of parliamentary activity. The European Parliament has criticised this situation on several occasions, most prominently in its two most recent resolutions on the country:

  • in 2017: "(...) BiH has remained the only enlargement country where such a body could not be properly constituted; urges the presiding bodies of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Parliament to find, without delay, a solution in order to meet the requirements of the EU's institutional and legal framework and to provide meaningful parliamentary oversight of the accession process".
  • in 2019: "Deplores the fact that, owing to the attempts to introduce ethnic blocking into the SAPC's voting rules, delegates from BiH have still been unable to agree on the rules of procedure for the SAPC, which has consequently not met for three years; regrets the failure to cooperate with the European Parliament, recalls that this is a clear breach of the obligations stemming from the SAA and urges all actors to agree to and accept the SAPC's rules of procedure based on the European Parliament's recommendations on the subject".

Delegation visits

When travelling to each of the countries for meetings of the Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committees, the European Parliament's DSEE delegation tries to organise additional discussions with ambassadors from the EU, non-governmental organisations and civil servants. These provide useful and informed - though also sometimes divergent - views of the local situation.

MEPs also participate in field visits to projects financed from EU sources. This allows them to scrutinise how EU funds are used abroad and report back to the European Parliament's appropriate committees, in order to help the committees fulfil their budgetary, political and legislative responsibilities.

Article 132 of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement

STABILISATION AND ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT

between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and Kosovo*, of the other part
Article 132

A Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (hereinafter referred to as the 'Parliamentary Committee') is hereby established. It shall be a forum for Members of the European Parliament and Members of the Parliament of Kosovo to meet and exchange views. It shall meet at intervals that it shall itself determine, but at least once a year.

The Parliamentary Committee shall consist of Members of the European Parliament and Members of the Parliament of Kosovo.

The Parliamentary Committee shall establish its rules of procedure.

The Parliamentary Committee shall be chaired in turn by a member of the European Parliament and by a member of the Parliament of Kosovo, in accordance with the provisions to be laid down in its rules of procedure.

The Parliamentary Committee may make recommendations to the SAC [Stabilisation and Association Council].

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Article 121 of the EU-Bosnia and Herzegovina Stabilisation and Association Agreement

STABILISATION AND ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT
between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of the other part

Article 121

A Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee is hereby established. It shall be a forum for Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the European Parliament to meet and exchange views. It shall meet at intervals that it shall itself determine.

The Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee shall consist of Members of the European Parliament and of Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee shall establish its rules of procedure.

The Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee shall be chaired in turn by a member of the European Parliament and by a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in accordance with the provisions to be laid down in its rules of procedure.