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Kosovo – Towards European integration
Kosovo is a potential candidate for accession to the European Union (EU) according to the status defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. Kosovo has made progress in its reforms. However, the Commission reviews the efforts still needed to bring it closer to the EU.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 17 December 2009 – Kosovo – Fulfilling its European Perspective [COM(2009) 534 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
According to the status defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo has made progress towards accession to the European Union (EU). Kosovo participates in the EU’s stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans.
The progress made relates in the first instance to the adaptation of legislation to European standards and the establishment of a viable fiscal framework. However, Kosovo still faces major challenges on political, economic and social levels.
The EU provides technical and financial assistance to support the reforms. Among other things, Kosovo benefits from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, the CARDS programme and the Instrument for Stability.
In 2008 and 2009, Kosovo adopted plans for measures corresponding to the objectives of the European Partnership. In particular, the reforms are intended to improve the following:
- the functioning of the State, the judiciary and public administration;
- fiscal policy and economic stability;
- public procurement and the business environment;
- the fight against corruption, money laundering and organised crime;
- social cohesion;
- the protection of minorities, in particular Serbs, and reconciliation between the communities.
Free movement of persons
Kosovo citizens now benefit from simplified procedures for obtaining short-stay visas in EU countries. Visa requirements are to be relaxed further if Kosovo makes progress concerning:
- readmission arrangements for Kosovo citizens,
- the fight against organised crime,
- the security of identity documents,
- the monitoring of migration and border security.
Kosovo’s socio-economic development
Kosovo has been relatively little affected by the international economic crisis due to its limited integration into global trade. However, remittances and inflows of foreign investment decreased in 2009. In addition, Kosovo’s budget and trade deficits are considerable.
The EU supports Kosovo in several sectors:
- trade - the Commission proposes a regime of exceptional trade measures which may be replaced in due time by another preferential regime for products from Kosovo (Pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin);
- macro-economic and fiscal stability - in the context of the EU-Kosovo economic dialogue and Kosovo’s membership of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF);
- the private sector - to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to promote privatisation and innovation;
- social policies and employment - to strengthen job centres, work incentive and social inclusion schemes. In particular, Kosovo is associated with the European PROGRESS programme;
- education, training and research - in particular through European student exchange programmes and the 7th Framework Programme for Research;
- culture and civic life - for the benefit of civil society organisations in particular.
Kosovo’s efforts should be extended to new sectors:
- energy - in order to privatise the sector, to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies;
- transport - to improve the rail and road infrastructure, and with regard to Kosovo’s participation in the European Common Aviation Area;
- environment - measures should be taken to protect public health (drinking water, air quality, etc.), and to implement European legislation effectively.
Kosovo’s cooperation with the other countries of Southern Europe is essential for its commercial development, economic growth and political stability. However, its participation in regional forums remains a sensitive political issue. Similarly, a blockade has been maintained on Kosovo’s exports to Serbia and on transit trade with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Kosovo’s external representation is carried out by UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo).
Kosovo conducts a regular dialogue with the EU on the themes of innovation, the internal market, good governance, agriculture, the economy and infrastructures.
EU financial assistance
Aid allocated by the EU is targeted to a limited number of priorities. The funding allocated under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) amounts to EUR 359 million for the period 2007-2009 and EUR 206 million for 2010-2012. These funds are to be used to finance cross-border activities.
Kosovo’s independence has been recognised by 22 out of 27 EU countries. This lack of a shared position does not prevent the EU from adopting measures to support its economic and political development.
In addition, the EU supports Kosovo’s stability through:
- the presence of a civilian mission in the context of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP),
- the appointment of a Special Representative for political reform,
- the establishment of the European EULEX mission for the rule of law (police, the judiciary and customs).