EU starts the Stabilisation and Association Agreement negotiations with Kosovo
Brussels (28th October) - Today the negotiations of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Union and Kosovo will start in Pristina. The SAA will represent the first comprehensive contractual relationship between Kosovo and the EU and an important milestone in Kosovo's European integration process.
After the Commission considered last April that Kosovo had met all the short-term priorities identified in the 2012 Feasibility study (in the areas of rule of law, public administration, protection of minorities and trade), the Council decided in June 2013 to authorise the opening of negotiations on an SAA.
Štefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, said: “With the start of the SAA negotiations, we turn a new page in our relationship. It is a clear recognition of the progress made by Kosovo on key reforms and the substantial efforts achieved in normalisation of relations with Serbia. The Commission aims to complete these negotiations in spring 2014, to initial the draft agreement in summer and thereafter to submit the proposal for the Council and the European Parliament to conclude the agreement. The agreement will bring tangible benefits to all citizens of Kosovo. Kosovo now needs to focus on the negotiations and beyond. Kosovo needs to confirm and explain its negotiating position. It also needs to continue to work on the eight other priority areas identified in our feasibility study so that it will be able implement the SAA and meet the obligations this will entail. I am confident Kosovo can successfully meet this exciting new challenge".
Following the Lisbon Treaty, which conferred legal personality to the European Union, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement will be concluded in the form of an EU-only agreement. The negotiations will be led by the Commission and the provisions on the political dialogue and the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) will be negotiated by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Through the implementation of the agreement the EU and Kosovo shall gradually establish a bilateral free trade area where free movement of goods, services and capital are mutually guaranteed. Kosovo shall align its legislation with EU rules regarding competition, public procurement, intellectual and industrial property rights, consumer protection and working conditions. The Parties will also cooperate in number of areas such as social affairs, education, culture, environment and others.