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European Partnership with Serbia, including Kosovo

As an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process, the European Partnership with Serbia, including Kosovo as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, is intended to provide additional, tailored support to the authorities in order to realise the European aspirations of the Western Balkan countries. Its aim is to identify priority areas in which further efforts and reforms are needed, calling in particular for national legislation to be brought into line with that of the Community. It also provides a reference framework for financial assistance from Community funds.

ACT

Council Decision 2008/213/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the European Partnership with Serbia including Kosovo as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 and repealing Decision 2006/56/EC.

SUMMARY

The European Partnership with Serbia, including Kosovo as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, is the main instrument for assisting local authorities in realising their country's European aspirations. This was confirmed at the Zagreb Summit in 2000 and reinforced at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003.

The European Partnership, an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP), was set up in accordance with the Thessaloniki agenda (2003) for the Western Balkans, which added this new instrument, modelled on the accession partnerships with the candidate countries, to the process in order to be able to provide further support to these countries in their European aspirations. The legal basis for the partnerships with the countries of the Western Balkans is Regulation (EC) No 533/2004.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the European partnership is to provide a general reference framework for:

  • the priority areas for reform where efforts are required; which are identified according to the country’s needs and involve the adoption and implementation of appropriate legislation;
  • guidelines for financial assistance for action in these priority areas;
  • the principles and conditions governing implementation of the Partnership.

The European Partnership and its subsequent amendments were adopted by the Council of the European Union by a qualified majority on the basis of a proposal from the Commission.

This partnership updates the previous one, adopted in 2006. Partnerships are flexible instruments, designed to reflect the progress made by the countries concerned. They highlight the efforts that still need to be made in other areas as identified by the Commission’s assessments.

With a view to achieving the objectives identified in the European Partnership, Serbia must adopt an action plan setting out the procedures and timetable for implementing the priorities set by the Partnership. For Kosovo, a separate plan has been developed together with the competent authorities.

Implementation of the Partnership is monitored within the framework of the SAP and its mechanisms, particularly through the Commission's annual progress report.

PRIORITIES

The priority objectives set in the European Partnership are both realistic and attainable. In this regard, a distinction is made between short-term and medium-term priorities, which are expected to be achieved within one to two years and within three to four years respectively.

The priorities identified are based primarily on Serbia's ability to comply with:

  • the 1993 Copenhagen Criteria;
  • the conditions set for the SAP (Council conclusions of 27 April 1997 and 21 and 22 June 1999);
  • the 2000 Zagreb Declaration;
  • the 2003 Thessaloniki Agenda.

For Serbia, the short- and medium-term priorities fall into the following categories:

  • The key priorities are short-term priorities. These relate to compliance with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and interim agreement, full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), constructive cooperation on questions concerning Kosovo; the implementation of constitutional provisions in accordance with European law, public institutions and administrations (the reform of public administration, European integration structures, coordination of policies), reform of the judicial system, anti-corruption policy and completion of the privatisation process;
  • The political criteria concern democracy and the rule of law (Constitution, Parliament, public service, civilian oversight of security forces, the judicial system, anti-corruption policy, human rights and rights of minorities, economic, social and cultural rights, the rights and protection of minorities, regional issues and international obligations (respecting the Dayton Agreements, strengthening regional cooperation, reconciliation and good neighbourly relations, concluding agreements with neighbouring countries to strengthen cross-border cooperation, resolving border issues, returning and integrating refugees and implementing the Sarajevo Declaration);
  • The economic criteria include applying a stable and viable budgetary policy; the reform of public finance management; a stable monetary policy; improved bankruptcy procedures; the liberalisation of remaining administered prices; the strengthening of financial control; reform of the pension and sickness-insurance systems; restructuring and privatisation of the insurance sector; the formalisation of the grey economy; the development of stable and viable property and land markets; the promotion of employment (training, a decrease in structural rigidities, improvement of the educational system and the business environment); privatisation and the strengthening of competition policy;
  • European standards relating to certain aspects of the Community acquis, i.e. the internal market, and to Community sectoral policies and the area of justice, freedom and security. In these areas, Serbia must endeavour to bring its legislation into line with the Community acquis and ensure its implementation.

In order to guarantee a secure, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo, its short- and long-term priorities are based on the standards laid down by Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council [FR]. They fall into the following categories:

  • The key priorities in the short term relate to respecting the rule of law, human rights, the protection of minorities and the freedom of religion; guaranteeing democratic governance and the provision of public services; setting up a transparent and accountable public administration; continuing reforms of local self-government and administrative capacity-building. They aim to create a climate for reconciliation, inter-ethnic tolerance and sustainable multi-ethnicity which is conducive to the return of displaced persons. The priorities also target cooperation on issues concerning Serbia with the ICTY and the planning teams preparing the international/EU mission. The fight against corruption, organised crime and terrorism must be continued. Lastly, the priorities aim to create a society free from discrimination, incorporating disadvantaged groups, and to strengthen property rights, the legal framework and the accessibility of courts;
  • The political criteria relate to democracy and the rule of law (provisional institutions of self-government, the fight against organised crime, terrorism and corruption, parliament/elections, public administration, the judicial system, human rights, the rights and protection of minorities, cultural rights). They also focus on regional issues and international obligations (strengthening regional cooperation and good-neighbourly relations, implementation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement – CEFTA and participation in all the appropriate regional initiatives);
  • The economic criteria include maintaining sound budgetary policies; long-term viability of social policies targeting poverty and social exclusion; higher recovery rates for public-utility invoices, better governance and improved quality and quantity of education; privatisation and restructuring; financial efficiency of public-sector companies; creation of an official labour market; the strengthening of property rights, the rule of law and access to courts; implementation of active labour-market policies and an increase in export capacity;
  • European legislation relating to certain aspects of the Community acquis, i.e. the internal market and Community sectoral policies and the area of justice, freedom and security. In these areas, Kosovo must endeavour to bring its legislation into line with the Community acquis and ensure its implementation. Kosovo must also develop and strengthen its administrative capacity in order to ensure that its policies and legislation are coherent with EU requirements and to implement EU standards.

The priorities identified in this Partnership also form the basis for the Commission's assessments.

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

Serbia, including Kosovo as defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244, is receiving aid under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for 2007‑2013. The European Partnership serves as a reference document for determining the different areas to be allocated funding (according to priorities), but the programming documents provide the actual legal framework for the financial assistance.

At the end of the Multiannual Indicative Financial Framework (MIFF) for 2009‑2011 (including 2007 and 2008) Serbia and Kosovo will have been allocated EUR 976.8 million and EUR 395.1 million respectively. The IPA picks up where the CARDS programme (2000‑2006) left off. Under the latter, financial assistance to Serbia and Kosovo, including Montenegro, totalled EUR 2 559.8 million.

Community assistance is conditional upon recipient countries abiding by the essential elements which govern their relations with the EU, particularly the effective implementation of reforms. The European Partnership requires compliance with the Copenhagen Criteria, the priorities identified in the Partnership and the conditions set out in the Council's conclusions of 29 April 1997. Failure to meet these requirements could result in the Council suspending financial assistance.

In 2006, Kosovo received exceptional financial assistance in the form of a grant intended to support measures for strengthening public finances and the economic and budgetary situation, as Kosovo is currently unable to join the international financial institutions (IFIs) or receive aid in the form of loans. This assistance, which was initially planned for a period of two years and has not yet been disbursed, is also intended to help Kosovo develop a sustainable tax policy.

Furthermore, Serbia and Kosovo are also receiving funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB), principally under its external lending mandate for the EU’s south-eastern neighbours. The funding granted by the EIB takes the form of grants and loans. Although Kosovo signed a framework agreement with the EIB in 2005, it has not received any EIB funding.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2008/213/EC21.3.2008-OJ L 80, 19.03.2008

RELATED ACTS

Communication of 5 March 2008 from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: "Western Balkans: Enhancing the European perspective" [COM(2008) 127 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication of 27 January 2006 from the Commission: "The Western Balkans on the road to the EU: consolidating stability and raising prosperity" [COM(2006) 27 – Not published in the Official Journal].

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) [Official Journal L 210 of 31 July 2006].

Multiannual Indicative Financial Framework for the period:

  • 2008-2010 [COM(2006) 672 final – Not published in the Official Journal];
  • 2009-2011 [COM(2007) 689 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Multiannual Indicative Planning Documents for 2007‑2009 for Serbia and Kosovo .

Council Decision 2006/880/EC of 30 November 2006 providing exceptional Community financial assistance to Kosovo [Official Journal L 339 of 6 December 2006].

EVALUATION

Serbia

Commission Report of 6 November 2007 [COM(2007) 663 final – SEC(2007) 1435 – Not published in the Official Journal];
Commission Report of 8 November 2006 – Serbia [COM(2006) 649 final – SEC(2006) 1389 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Kosovo under UN Security Council Resolution 1244

Commission Report of 6 November 2007 [COM(2007) 663 final – SEC(2007) 1433 – Not published in the Official Journal];

Commission Report of 8 November 2006 – Kosovo (as defined by UN Security Council Resolution 1244) [COM(2006) 649 final – SEC(2006) 1386 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 21.05.2008

See also

Reports from previous years are available on the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Enlargement.

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