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Brussels, 8 October 2014
Key findings of the Progress Report on Kosovo
The Progress Report on Kosovo is part of the 2014 Enlargement Package adopted by the European Commission on 8 October. The Commission concluded that Kosovo has reached a milestone on its European integration path. The period was marked by intensive negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which was initialled at the end of July.
Kosovo authorities have demonstrated good capacity to coordinate their European integration agenda, notably with regard to the SAA negotiations. Building on the expertise across different departments and institutions, Kosovo's negotiators put substantial effort into scrutinising the proposed text and analysing its possible impact. This reflects a good grasp of the impact of the commitments made. On the rule of law, good cooperation with the EU rule of law mission, EULEX, has continued. Kosovo authorities have made a substantial political commitment to the renewal of the mission's mandate and agreed to establish a specialist court to hear cases arising out of the investigation led by the Special Investigative Task Force. To complete this process, Kosovo needs to adopt the necessary changes to key legislation. Kosovo has also made progress in the visa liberalisation dialogue. Kosovo however needs to demonstrate practical results notably in the fight against organised crime and corruption and further develop the independence of the judiciary to complete this process. To ensure a continued functioning of the courts and council, judges and members of the judicial council need to be timely nominated and appointed. Successful municipal and general elections took place throughout Kosovo, including in the four northern municipalities.
In the past year Kosovo's political agenda was dominated by local and general elections and their aftermath. The failure to constitute the new legislature smoothly and in a timely manner has been a setback. A new government would need to launch a range of comprehensive reforms, in particular electoral reform and public administration reform. Kosovo citizens expect that they will have access to free media and that they will not face discrimination on whatever grounds irrespective of their faith or ethnicity. To succeed, Kosovo needs a government, which is not only reform oriented, but which will also support the dialogue with Serbia and the implementation of the agreements reached to date not only for the sake of Kosovo and Serbia, but of the whole Western Balkans region.
Kosovo has made limited progress on its path to become a functioning market economy. Substantial efforts are needed to tackle structural weaknesses to cope with competitive pressures and market forces over the long term. Pre-election ad-hoc increases in expenditures (such as on wages) impact negatively on the transparency, predictability and credibility of the fiscal policy. In that context, strengthening fiscal predictability needs to be a priority and, the effective implementation of the fiscal rule is vital. Moreover, decisions on large infrastructure projects, such as in the transport sector, need to be based on proper cost-benefit evaluations to maximize economic benefits. Kosovo citizens expect a better life and improved economic situation. Therefore, the new government will need to focus on structural economic reforms and on creating jobs.
Kosovo institutions have demonstrated their capacity to deliver on political priorities, such as the SAA negotiations, visa liberalisation dialogue and dialogue with Serbia. This should extend also to delivering on other reform oriented areas and on sectoral priorities, including agriculture, energy, transport and the environment.
Kosovo needs to start preparing for the implementation of the SAA in key sectors such as competition, intellectual property and public procurement. Kosovo needs to ensure that the competition authorities are effective and independent. The preferences for local producers in public procurement need to be made transparent and reflected by price. Obstacles to real estate purchases by foreigners need to be identified and removed. To enforce food and veterinary standards, which are important for trade in the context of the SAA, the transfer of inspectors to the central agency needs to be completed urgently. Kosovo needs to prepare more actively to decommission the Kosovo A power plant. The lack of interest in the environment and climate change has become a serious issue for public health and the quality of life in Kosovo.
1999: The EU proposes the new Stabilisation and Association Process for countries of Southeast Europe.
June 2000: The European Council states that all the Stabilisation and Association countries are potential candidates for EU membership.
June 2003: Thessaloniki Summit; the EU perspective for the Western Balkans is confirmed.
February 2008: Kosovo unilaterally declares independence.
July 2010: The International Court of Justice concludes that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not violate general international law or Security Council Resolution 1244/99.
September 2010: The UN General Assembly adopts a resolution tabled by Serbia and co-sponsored by all EU Member States acknowledging the content of the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo is in accordance with international law and welcoming the readiness of the European Union to facilitate a process of dialogue between the parties.
March 2011: The EU-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade is launched.
January 2012: The visa liberalisation dialogue is launched.
October 2012: Feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo is issued.
April 2013: The First agreement of principles governing normalisation of relations is reached in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo.
June 2013: Council authorises opening of negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Kosovo.
October 2013 – May 2014: Negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
25 July 2014: EU and Kosovo chief negotiators initial draft of the SAA.
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