The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Kosovo and the EU could be signed by spring next years and enforced by the end of 2014.
The SAA is the first step toward future EU membership talks for any country in the Balkans region. But unlike other countries in the region, the negotiations with Kosovo are specific, the EU representative in Kosovo said in its statement.
“Unlike SAA with other countries of the region, this one will be exclusively the EU agreement. The EU will co-sign it as a legal entity. At the same time, since Kosovo is not recognised by the five member states, we had to issue a directive saying that the signing of the agreement will not signify that the EU or any of the countries recognise Kosovo as a state. Finally, the uniqueness of the agreement is confirmed by the fact that all member countries demanded that it be clearly stated that it will not affect the nature or the scope of similar future agreements, or the attitude of member states and EU institutions,” the statement mentioned.
The negotiations will be led by the European Commission, except for the section about political dialogue and security policy which will be led by the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Unlike previously signed ones, this SAA does not give the possibility of a temporary agreement, but Kosovo has to fulfil all the obligations.
At the same time, while other countries were obliged to negotiate on the SAA and wait for its ratification by all the member states, this process is not needed for Kosovo since the EU will co-sign it as legal entity, allowing the earlier enforcement of the SAA.
Through the implementation of this agreement, the EU and Kosovo will establish -- progressively -- bilateral area for free trade.
Kosovo needs to adjust its legislation according to EU rules to ensure implementation.
It is presupposed that negotiations will have three to four rounds.
Kosovo's negotiation team includes its foreign minister, minister of trade and industry, minister of agriculture, wood and rural development, minister of finance, minister of economic development and minister of justice.
When signed, this will be the first ever contractual agreement between Kosovo and the EU.
The SAA is considered as a pre-accession deal between the EU and country that hopes to join, and aims at reforming the candidate legislation to meet EU standards.
The last progress report issued by the EC in mid October says that Kosovo achieved some progress, but needs to improve in the area of fighting crime and corruption.
The EC encourages Kosovo to focus on the rule of law, judiciary, public administration, electoral reform and the Assembly, human and fundamental rights, protection of minorities, trade and internal market issues, and phytosanitary and veterinary issues.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Slovakia, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Spain are the only EU member states which have not recognised its status.
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