General view of relations between Kosovo and European Union

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on February 17th 2008. With most of other external actors, relations between Kosovo and other actors started exactly after the declaration of independence. But, this does not apply when it comes to relations with European Union. The EU has been an integral part of the international effort to build a new future for Kosovo since 1999[1].  Relations between European Union and Kosovo are not based only in one specific field, but this partnership is wide and impacts most of the aspects of the institutional and social life in Kosovo. The biggest focus of the relations between Kosovo and EU is in political and economic field.

Regarding political relations, EU has led almost all of the most important processes of Kosovo in foreign policy. The most current and most important, EU through High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Issues is facilitating the political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which is considered as a historic step of the two nations toward peace.

The most problematic issue regarding Kosovo and its political relations with the EU is the fact that Kosovo is still not recognized by all Member States of EU. Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus did not recognize Kosovo, even that EU institutions made several attempts to convince these countries to do so.  On July 8th 2010 the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on all member states to recognize Kosovo.  In this resolution, the EP states that “… would welcome the recognition by all Member States of the independence of Kosovo[2].”   However, this was not the only resolution adopted by European Parliament.  On  March 29th 2012, the EP adopted another resolution, through which invited five member states that still did not recognize Kosovo to do so: “…notes that the declaration of independence of Kosovo has been recognised by 88 countries, including 22 EU Member States; would welcome the remaining five EU Member States to do likewise[3]…”.

Flag_of_Kosovo
Flag of Republic of Kosovo

The EU reiterated that Kosovo has a clear European perspective along with all the Western Balkan states. The EU is determined to play a leading role in ensuring the stability of Kosovo through the rule of law mission under the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), through the Special Representative and also the contribution of the International Civilian Office (ICO). European Commission is following Kosovo in its bid for European reform and it offers recommendations to help to achieve the goals that Council has appointed the European Partnership for Kosovo. 18 of the EU’s member states continue to have their representatives in Kosovo and some non-governmental organizations from EU countries are active in the country.

Since 2004, European Commission issues “the Progress Report” for Kosovo, which is a great tool to measure the progress or regress that Kosovo institutions have made with their work towards EU criteria. This report is mainly focused on human rights, democracy, rule of law etc.

Actually, Kosovo is a potential candidate for joining the EU. On October 2012 the European Commission found that there were no legal obstacles to Kosovo signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU, as full sovereignty is not required for such an agreement, and recommended for SAA negotiations to start as soon as Kosovo had made further progress on issues in the four areas: Rule of law, Public administration, Protection of minorities, and Trade[4].  On June 2013, the European Council endorsed these recommendations, and negotiations were launched in the fall of 2013.

European Union is represented in Kosovo with three bodies: EULEX rule of law mission in Kosovo[5], Special representative in Kosovo[6] and Kosovo international Civilian Office[7].

Since 2002, Kosovo uses Euro as a currency, just like most of the member states of EU who are part of Monetary Union.  Kosovo is the only potential candidate for membership in the Western Balkans that does not have visa free access the Schengen Area.

Author: Artan Murati

 

[1]http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo/eu_kosovo/political_relations/index_en.htm (Accessed on 06.01.2014)

[2]http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P7-TA-2010-0281+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN (Accessed on 06.01.2014)

[3]http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2012-115 (Accessed on 06.01.2014)

[4]Feasibility Study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2012/package/ks_feasibility_2012_en.pdf (Accessed on 07.01.204)

[5] EULEX webpage: http://www.eulex-kosovo.eu/en/front/ (Accessed on 07.01.2014)

[6] Special Representative in Kosovo: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo/index_en.htm (Accessed on 07.01.2014)

[7] ICO Kosovo: http://www.ico-kos.org/?id=1 (Accessed on 07.01.2014)