A high-level delegation from the European Commission is visiting Kosovo in an assessment mission for the Economic Reform Programme (ERP). The delegation met with Besnik Bislimi, Kosovo Minister of Finance and Transfers and Economic Reform Programme Coordinator as well as other members of the Government. The EU side underlined that ERP is an increased priority for the European Commission and will be a key element for the EU's future assistance. The EU side encouraged Kosovo to use it as a tool for competitiveness and growth. Kosovo committed increase its efforts in combatting the informal economy, maintaining fiscal discipline, proceed with energy reforms in line with the principles of the Green Deal, increasing investments in education, improving labour market conditions for women and youth in particular. The mission takes places in the context of assessments of the ERPs in the Western Balkans and Turkey and an annual multilateral dialogue meeting with the Ministers of Finance of the EU Member States and EU institutions.
David Cullen, Head of the Unit for Kosovo and North Macedonia in the DG NEAR, reminded that ERP exercise provides the highest level of economic policy engagement the EU has with any region, while it remains a priority for the European Commission. " We are eager to engage with you as ERP Coordinator for Kosovo in the preparation and follow up of this exercise and count on Kosovo strong engagement to make the ERP a powerful tool to push for Kosovo’s competitiveness and growth," said Cullen.
The Minister of Finance and Transfers, Besnik Bislimi, expressed his readiness to continue cooperation and thanked the Commission for the continuous support. He briefed the Commission on the priorities, by putting stress on the health, education, water sector and energy efficiency. Minister Bislimi expressed optimism in the upcoming reforms in the future which he believes will reflect on economic development in the coming years, affecting the reduction of unemployment and creation of new development potentials.
Following the meeting, a plenary session was held between the European Commission and the Line Ministries where the Government's priorities and their reflection on the Economic Reform Program were discussed.
Background info about ERP:
As of 2015, all candidate countries and potential candidates submit annual Economic Reform Programmes (ERP) to the European Commission. The ERPs contain medium-term macroeconomic projections (including for GDP growth, inflation, trade balance and capital flows), budgetary plans for the next three years and a structural reform agenda. The structural reform agenda includes reforms to boost competitiveness and improve conditions for inclusive growth and job creation.
The Economic Reform Programme is the main EU instrument for dialogue on socio-economic matters. The fundamentals first approach to EU enlargement encourages aspiring members to tackle economic fundamentals first: macroeconomic stability, a welcoming business environment, functioning labour and financial markets, good levels and quality of education, infrastructure, innovation and economic integration with the EU and the world.
The European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) both make assessments of the ERPs that are submitted to the Council of Ministers for direct discussions with the enlargement countries. All seven enlargement partners participate in a multilateral dialogue meeting with the Ministers of Finance of the EU Member States, the EU and the ECB on an annual basis. The participants adopt Joint Conclusions with country-specific policy guidance for each of the countries outlining economic policy priorities for the coming 12 months.