ECoBHAS Bridge in Trebinje © Mike Pugh Zenica Steelworks © Mike Pugh Queen Mary, Univerity of London

European Compliance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia

about ecobhas


The research project focuses on the development of environmental governance in Serbia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, both deemed 'potential candidate countries' of the European Union (EU) by the European Commission. Both of these countries are not only going through democratic and economic changes along with other states in the region, but they must also address the challenges of building a post-conflict society. International actors have been significant in programmes to build the capacity of local actors for environmental governance in the region. In particular, the EU has employed both 'top-down' and 'bottom=up' strategies for capacity building in the Western Balkans. The EU stipulates that Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina adopt legal and institutional frameworks in line with EU best practice as a condition for closer links with European institutions. The EU also funds project grants for civil society organisations through the IPA/CARDS programmes. The ECoBHAS project focuses on the environmental arena, since multi-level environmental governance requires significant capacities in local government, NGOs, companies and communities to effectively engage with the relevant issues. The research also examines whether the EU has the capacity to build environmental governance in Serbia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

research questions

  • Does the EU have the capacity to build governance through conditionality (e.g. the Stabilisation and Association process) and aid (e.g. IPA/CARDS funding)?
  • Do the state, civil society organisations and local communities have the capacity to effectively engage with processes of environmental governance?
  • If one of these capacities is underdeveloped, it is possible to achieve 'good governance'?
  • What lessons, if any, have been learnt from the experience of developing environmental capacity in the context of EU accession in other post-socialist states?

case studies

Roads: using interviews with multi-lateral lending institutions, local government and NGOs, the research examines whether environmental impact assessment (EIA) processes for major road-building projects were consistent with standards of good multi-level governance. The research currently focuses on comparing two EBRD-funded projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina: the Sarajevo Bypass and the Banja Luka/Gradiska road.

River Basin Management: using interviews with local NGOs and government, the project examines whether actors are able to provide successful environmental management, even though some of the issues require transboundary co-operation. The research is currently examining the interaction between NGOs and local government institutions across the sub-state entity border in the Neretva River basin in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Environmental NGOs: using the directory of environmental civil society organisations in Southeast Europe published by the Regional Environmental Center in 2006, it is possible to carry out a basic quantitative analysis of capacities for these organisations. The research is currently examining the capacities of environmental NGOs in Bosnia-Herzegovina that claim to participate in EIA studies. This study is complemented by interviewing these NGOs.

EU Funding: using aggregate analyses of applications for project funding, the research will examine the types of civil society organisations that are applying for grants from the local European Commission delegation office. The project is currently examining the most recent applications for European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) project funding from the European Commission Delegation offices in Sarajevo and in Pristina.

Arts & Humanities Research Council
Research project funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UK) - Grant no. CLSE1A4R