Kosovo in the Stabilization – Association Process (SAP)
Stabilization and Association process Dialogue (SApD)
For the purpose of advancing cooperation between Kosovo and the EU within the Stabilization – Association Process, the European Commission, in its Communication from 2009 “Kosovo – Fulfilling its European Perspective “, began an intensive political dialogue, called the Stabilization and Association Process Dialogue (SApD), which since 2003 has been known as Accompanying Mechanism of Stabilization-Association (AMSAP). Within this mechanism, high level plenary and sectorial level meetings are organized for the purposes of creating compliance with EU regulations.
The main purpose of plenary and sectorial, i.e. political and technical meetings of the SApD is monitoring and following up on reforms in Kosovo, as well as on the process of EU integration towards priorities set out in the European Partnership approved by the Council in 2008.
Plenary meetings of the SApD are held once a year. The first meeting was held in July 2010. SAP dialogue meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and the Government of Kosovo. Each meeting results in subsequent actions agreed upon which concrete actions should be taken by Kosovo authorities. In addition to plenary meetings, and also within this process, sectorial meetings are also organized. In these meetings, sectorial experts of the European Commission that come from respective General Directorates, meet with the ministries and local experts.
Furthermore, the meetings are organized on topics from seven sectors with a purpose of deepening technical discussions in the fields of justice, security and freedom; innovation, information society and social policies; trade; market and internal competitiveness; agriculture and fishing; transport, environment, energy and regional development; and economic development. Sectorial meetings of the SApD are held once a year; in Prishtina and Brussels. The dialogue with Kosovo also continues between the two meetings. In between the two meetings, the implementation of respective recommendations and agreed upon actions is made possible. In addition to these meetings, the EU together with the government of Kosovo has also launched the structural dialogue on rule of law as well as parallel work is being done in the special group for public administration reform.
The EU has opened the dialogue on visa liberalization and presented the guidelines for visa liberalization to Kosovo authorities in June 2012. The EU has agreed to extend Autonomous Trade Measures for Kosovo in 2011. Kosovo has also been included in the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Med Origin, in which it can actively participate after an agreement is signed. Kosovo is preparing for integration in the framework for economic and fiscal supervision. In March 2011, the Committee has recommended the Council to authorize it to negotiate the framework agreement which allows Kosovo to participate in EU programs. In December 2011, the Council noticed that the socio-economic development of Kosovo would be developed through a membership into the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which has been achieved in spring of 2013.
Kosovo benefits from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance program, cross-border cooperation with Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro. In total between 2007 and 2013, around €635 million were granted to Kosovo.
Together with Kosovo authorities, the Commission has started the Structured Dialogue on the Rule of Law. This demonstrates the political dedication of Kosovo authorities to face the challenges in this field from the early stages of the enlargement process.
Until now, the Commission and Kosovo have fulfilled four cycles of the Stabilization-Association Process Dialogue. This dialogue has been proven to be an effective mechanism to monitor and advise Kosovo on the measures that it needs to undertake in implementing the European agenda for reforms. This mechanism also requires advising with civil society organizations. Therefore starting from 2011, the European Commission in Kosovo has launched the process of collecting inputs and recommendations and stances by the civil society before each sector meeting of the SApD as well as the organization of a joint meeting to be held before the annual plenary meeting.
Until now Kosovo did not have contractual relations with the EU. But the European Commission has recommended that negotiations start for the SAA and this recommendation was approved at the meeting of the Council held on June 28, 2013. Negotiations for an SAA with Kosovo began on October 28, 2013 and a number of rounds of meetings are expected to be held to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties which is expected to be signed (sign on each page) in spring of 2014. This agreement shall then be handed over to member states for review and approval by the Council.