Third Plenary meeting of the Stabilisation Association Dialogue held in Pristina
The meeting underlined the importance for Kosovo to continue efforts in five crucial areas: trade, electoral reform, public administration reform, rule of law and integration of communities.
On trade, Kosovo's efforts to improve its policies and ability for trade negotiations were discussed. Whilst there is progress, with recent restructuring of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the EU stressed that Kosovo's trade policies must take into account Kosovo's interests as well as the global regulatory environment.
Proper conduct of elections is an essential prerequisite for a democracy and good governance. It is essential that political leaders reach a consensus and make swift and tangible progress on the ongoing electoral reform. The EU has provided expertise since the reform started and the EU recommendations should be seriously taken into account and reform should move ahead. The EU reiterated its recommendation for a simple and transparent system that would allow for timely and accurate results in line with best EU practices and standards.
The meeting underlined the importance of public administration reforms, in particular to ensure that there is the necessary capacity and resources to move these reforms forward. In this respect it is also important to ensure that the government institutions and bodies will be equipped with professional staff and have the capacity to move forward the European agenda at all levels of the Kosovar institutions. The need to ensure premises and budgetary independence for the Ombudsperson was underlined as an urgent priority.
Discussants agreed that there is a need to step up efforts in the areas of rule of law and fight against organised crime and corruption. The local authorities should ensure an increased cooperation with EULEX particularly in the light of the start of the visa dialogue and the perspective for ending supervised independence. It is essential that the new anti-corruption strategy is adopted, as well as the action plan, and that it will be implemented with full political support, at all levels.
The forum provided opportunity to discuss at length the current situation with regards to human rights, freedom of speech and of the media and integration of minority communities.
The meeting was opened by Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi, the Deputy Director General at the Enlargement Directorate-General of the European Commission Joost Korte and the Head of EU Office/EU Special Representative in Kosovo, Samuel bogar.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi said:
The third Plenary meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Process Dialogue is taking place in a year when Kosovo-EU relations are taking a big turn with an intensified agena. This year marks the formalisation of the relations between Kosovo and the European Union."
Deputy Director of DG Enlargement, Joost Korte said:
"This autumn the EU will publish a Feasibility Study on Kosovo's readiness to negotiate a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. This is a historic step and opens a new phase in the EU-Kosovo relations. I call on the authorities to press forward with reforms in the five key areas: trade, electoral reform, public administration reform, rule of law and integration of communities."
Head of EU Office and EU Special Representative, Samuel bogar, said:
"This year marked a crucial moment in Kosovo-EU relations with some very important processes opened for Kosovo the visa liberalisation dialogue and the Feasibility Study for an SAA. Now it is up to Kosovo institutions to get the speed and move processes forward. Meetings like this today, provide the opportunity for us, the EU and our Kosovo partners to openly discuss on where Kosovo stands with regard to integration processes and what are the to-do's for the institutions to get there faster. The EU will always help by giving political guidance and expertise when needed but also through financial support."
The SAP Dialogue is the framework for the EC and the Kosovo administration to regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda. The meetings provide direct input into the European Commission's yearly progress report an the Feasibility study concretely in 2012.
The SAP Dialogue monitors and accompanies Kosovo's delivery on reforms, in particular with regard to the priorities defined in the European Partnership, and identifies how the EU can assist in this process.
There are seven areas covered in sectorial meetings and they follow closely the format of the dialogue that the EU has with other candidates and potential candidates. The sectorial meetings are on Justice, Freedom and Security; Innovation, Information Society, Social Policy, Education and Culture; Trade, Industry, Customs and Taxation; Internal Market, Competition, Consumer and Health Protection; Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Food Safety; Transport, Environment, Energy, Regional Development; Economic and Financial Issues, Statistics.
Sectorial and plenary SAP Dialogue meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and the government. Each meeting results in jointly agreed follow-up actions to be taken by the Kosovo authorities. The conclusions from the meetings you can find at the EU Office in Kosovo website.