Respected excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, On behalf of the Delegation of the European Commission, it is my honour and pleasure to welcome you to this important Conference on Public Administration Reform. The fact that we are here today to discuss the PAR Strategy amongst ourselves should not be underestimated. Once the Strategy gets adopted, this is in fact a major achievement; certainly so if we look back at the history of PAR in the country.

Already as of 2003 – when the governments committed themselves to the so-called PAR pledges – has the country been attempting to come towards a comprehensive PAR strategy. One of the main inputs for coming to such a comprehensive nation wide strategy has been the EC-funded systems review and the various sectoral functional reviews that were mostly carried out in 2004-2005. Each contained recommendations with a five-year perspective, some of them with a draft action plan.

The PAR Coordinators Office – again with support from the EC- and actively using the input of nominated government representatives of all levels of government has been able to use this material to further the work in a comprehensive PAR Strategy that specifies a vision for the country’s administration, set clear objectives as to where the administration should be by the end of 2007, 2010 and 2014, and subsequently identifies and prioritises needed reform interventions to achieve these short term, medium term and long term objectives. I would like to compliment the PAR Coordinator’s Office – but also the over 50 senior civil servants from all levels of government who have been actively contributing , and actually agreed, to the Strategy – for their work.

An early adoption of the PAR Strategy is a clear indication that Bosnia is prepared to take full responsibility in the modernisation and reform of its Public Administrations. That would come in timely, as the EC is currently preparing an update of its annual progress report, in which PAR will feature prominently. Having said that, of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The European Partnership is clear about this as well. It defines as one of the 5 key medium term priorities the implementation of a National Action Plan for PAR.

And it does so, for a reason. As will be further elaborated by some other speakers today, PAR is vital for the country’s pursuit to eventually become member of the European Union. I would dare to say that you cannot make real progress in European Integration without seriously tackling the way the administration operates. The European Integration process will be a drain on the country’s administration. At the same time attaining European standards in the Bosnian public administration will not just be for furthering the country’s bid for eventual membership, but will also give the country’s citizens the chance for a better, service-oriented, more efficient, effective and transparent organisation that provides better value for money and will help generate economic development.

Once approved, the International Community is ready to financially support the governments in the implementation of the PAR Strategy. We believe that the PAR strategy should provide the main framework for assistance in this sector. Therefore, the EC and the governments of the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom have joined forces to develop a PAR Fund which will finance activities deriving from this PAR action plan. In addition to the direct technical assistance to the PAR Coordinator’s Office, the PAR Fund has so far mobilised 4,5 million Euro for this purpose.

We once again congratulate the PAR Coordinator Office for having developed this comprehensive PAR strategy jointly with relevant stakeholders at all government levels. We urge the State, Entity and Brcko authorities to adopt the strategy and begin implementing the action plan as soon as possible.

Thank you very much!

Michael Humphreys, the chief of the European Commission Delegation in BiH