Within the framework of the European Union’s (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, 64 partner countries have been cooperating since 2010 to effectively mitigate the risks posed by CBRN materials. A key element of this Initiative is to support countries in assessing their needs, identifying gaps and determining priorities to be incorporated into their respective CBRN National Strategy and National Action Plan (NAP).
The development process involves the active participation of all members of the CBRN National Team, comprising representatives from relevant ministries, agencies and authorities closely responsible for CBRN safety and security within their national borders. The majority of these 64 partner countries (45) have already formulated their respective CBRN National Action Plans or similar document. Some countries have already started the development and implementation of their second round of their NAPs, with a specific focus on the next three to five years.
To meet the requirements of partner countries in formulating their CBRN NAPs, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has devised a distinctive methodology that includes a series of tailored workshops. This process begins with the Needs Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ) workshop, which comprises 300 questions designed to assess CBRN needs and priorities, and allows to draft the preliminary structure of the NAP. In the subsequent phase, known as the NAP workshop, beneficiary partner countries insert more details to their NAPs. This involves allocating specific tasks to the lead agencies responsible for the implementation process of the National Action Plan.
Partner countries have the autonomy to develop their own NAPs with or without the support provided by the EU CBRN CoE Initiative. The “Bottoms Up Approach” allows beneficiary countries to decide the direction they want to take.
During its first NAP process the CBRN National Team of Bosnia and Herzegovina, comprising representatives from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, and Brčko District, developed their own NAP for the period from 2018 to 2022. Following the expiration of the first NAP, they decided to take advantage of the offer from the Joint Research Centre to review and update their NAP with the support of the European Commission and the Regional Secretariat of South East and Eastern Europe (SEEE) region.
In pursuit of these objectives, the CBRN National Team, organized a series of internal consultations and coordination meetings (both online and in-person) starting from the second half of 2022. During this process, they distributed the CBRN Needs Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ) and collected responses from the national entities involved. The NAQ workshop took place from 8 to 10 November 2022, followed by the NAP workshop held from 29 to 31 March 2023. The final NAP workshop convened in Sarajevo from 29 to 30 May 2023, brought together twenty-seven government officials and other national stakeholders.
During the Concluding CBRN NAP meeting, the entire CBRN national team achieved consensus on all sixteen priority areas and forty specific tasks aimed at strengthening CBRN preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. The revised CBRN National Action Plan will be submitted to the government for approval in October 2023. Once the CBRN NAP is approved, lead agencies will be responsible for implementing specific tasks, while ongoing regional projects will address certain areas. Following an internal assessment, the CBRN National Team may organize a Donors Coordination Conference, in order secure funding for some tasks that require external resources.
The CBRN National Team of Bosnia and Herzegovina has demonstrated its remarkable ability to collaborate swiftly and efficiently in reviewing its CBRN National Action Plan following its expiration on 31 December 2022. Through their dedication and hard work, the CBRN National Team successfully completed the review process within a span of 12 months. This achievement is particularly noteworthy considering that the development and review process often requires a significantly longer period. The expedited review of the CBRN NAP in Bosnia and Herzegovina serves as a valuable success story, which will be presented and shared with other regions during the International National Focal Points meeting in Brussels.
The EU CBRN CoE is a global Initiative funded and implemented by the European Union as part of its goal to promote peace, stability and conflict prevention.
The aim of the Initiative is to mitigate risks and strengthen an all-hazards security governance in Partner Countries of the EU following a voluntary and demand-driven approach. The EU support is provided to implement a wide range of CBRN risk mitigation activities including needs and risk assessments, national and regional action plans, capacity building activities, legal framework reviews, table top and real time (including cross-border) field exercises, inter-regional exchange of best practices and lessons learnt.