Crossing the EU's external border at Gradiška need strong nerves. The E661 ends abruptly at a narrow old bridge over the Save, the eye of the needle for the journey from Croatia to Srpska. The Croatian customs officers take things slowly.
Once you have finally made it across the river after hours of waiting and are driving through the narrow town, you suddenly rub your eyes in amazement: a stone's throw away is a new motorway including a generously developed border station. But on the Croatian side, a few kilometers of road are missing for the connection - obviously because there is a lack of political will for its completion.
The EAC talked to Nedeljko Coric, Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Srpska, about the challenges in the transport sector, cooperation with the European Union, national tensions and future prospects. For Coric it is clear:
A high-quality road infrastructure is the basis for improving trade exchange between the Republic of Srpska and the European Union.
Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Srpska
In this regard, the Republic of Srpska has an astonishingly well-developed motorway network that is continuously being expanded. Only recently, new connections to Banja Luka were completed that are on par with EU standards. 106 km of motorway have been built, connecting the larger cities of Banja Luka and Doboj with the EU external border in Gradiška.
The infrastructure for electric mobility, on the other hand, is still very poor. The Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are currently far away from having a concept for electric mobility, only about 130 charging stations for electric vehicles have been put into operation in BiH so far, and there are neither a significant number of electric vehicles nor incentives for the purchase and use of such vehicles, Coric explains. So far, about 50 electric vehicles have been registered in BiH.
In addition, the cooperation in the Southern European Transport Community plays a major role. The vision of the Transport Community of the Western Balkans is "a better-connected region in which people and goods are transported faster, cheaper, healthier and more comfortably". This can be achieved by investing more in sustainable infrastructures and by connecting roads, railways, ports and airports to the Trans-European Network (TEN-T).
There is also a need to catch up in terms of willingness to wear a seat belt, the rate is 70 per cent.