European Western Balkans

Key findings of the 2015 report on Kosovo

The report on Kosovo is part of the 2015 Enlargement Package adopted today by the European Commission. The Commission concluded that Kosovo has made further progress; in October 2015, the EU signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Kosovo. This is a milestone on Kosovo’s path towards a European future. The SAA constitutes the first contractual relationship between the EU and Kosovo.

Political criteria

Kosovo delivered on two key international commitments. The Kosovo Assembly voted in favour of constitutional amendments to establish the Specialist Chambers in August, overturning an initial negative vote in June. The Chambers are to prosecute cases linked to allegations of human organ trafficking. Kosovo also confirmed its commitment to the normalisation of relations with Serbia by reaching agreements with Belgrade on long outstanding issues such as energy, telecoms and the Mitorvica bridge and on setting up an Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities. Violent obstructions of recent plenary sessions by members of the opposition have adversely affected the functioning of the Assembly. This needs to be urgently resolved.

Many independent institutions and regulatory authorities are not operational. Both government and Assembly need to urgently ensure these institutions can carry out their duties, applying key principles of accountability, professional qualifications and merit. The recent election of the Ombudsperson was a positive development in this regard.

The government increased its focus on public administration reform. It made progress in the legal and strategic framework, but accountability and efficiency need to improve. Consultations with civil society should become more systemic. Parliamentary oversight of budget implementation should be reliable and transparent. Sound financial management across public institutions should be ensured.

Kosovo successfully adopted a substantial body of legislation in the area of rule of law. However, the judicial system still lacks accountability and resources, and it is prone to political interference. Kosovo should develop a track record in high level corruption cases. The setting-up of the Anti-Corruption Task Force was a first step. Organised crime remains an issue of major concern. The adoption of the human rights law package clarifies the roles of various institutions. However, implementation is hindered by a lack of resources, difficulties in access and a sub-optimal institutional framework. The public broadcaster continues to be vulnerable to undue political influence.

Kosovo continues to extend its participation in regional and multilateral cooperation arrangements. The status issue requires it to adopt an approach of patient pragmatism. Continuing commitment to the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia continues to be a priority.

Economic criteria

Very low levels of labour force participation together with high unemployment hinder economic development. The Council recommendations to Kosovo’s first Economic Reform Programme need to be followed-up. Economic growth dropped to 0.9% – below the ten year average of 3.5% – mainly as a result of political uncertainty and lower than expected private consumption. The persistent trade deficit reflects a weak production base and a lack of international competitiveness. An inefficient public sector and ad hoc fiscal policy making constitute significant fiscal risks. To boost competitiveness, further investments are needed in human capital and physical infrastructure. Political interference in the economy needs to be reduced.

European standards

Kosovo is at an early stage of alignment in most areas.Some progress was made in public procurement, but Kosovo should strengthen the capacity of its public procurement bodies. As regards financial control, good progress was made, but significant efforts are needed to ensure sound public internal financial control throughout the public administration and in state-owned enterprises. In other areas of approximation, Kosovo’s institutions have demonstrated their capacity to deliver on political priorities, particularly as regards preparation for SAA implementation. Capital movements remain largely free, and the Central Bank’s supervisory capacity is sufficient. However, there has been no progress in the field of competition. Agricultural development is hindered by low productivity. A general lack of interest in the environment negatively affects public health and the quality of life in Kosovo.

Key dates

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 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.

July 2014: Initialling of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement

May 2015: The Commission submits the Stabilisation and Association Agreement to the Council for approval.

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