Representatives of the Kosovo Government and the European Commission met in Brussels to discuss developments over the past year in the areas of education, labour and social welfare, protection of cultural heritage, electronic communications, information society and audio-visual policy, science and innovation. The discussion was held in the framework of the regular Stabilisation and Association Agreement which entered into force in April 2016. In all areas, the Commission and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the European Reform Agenda priorities.
On education, the Commission stressed again the importance for Kosovo to continue efforts to ensure the autonomy and independent operation of higher education institutions and adopt a new law for higher education based on international standards. The Commission recalled the need to prioritise quality assurance at all levels, from pre-school to university education, including by providing the necessary funding. Access to quality education for children with disabilities and minority communities needs to be strengthened. On research and innovation, the Commission stressed the importance of good research and innovation capacity at national level to increase competitiveness and integration into the European Research Area and participation in Horizon 2020 programme. On the protection of cultural heritage, the Commission stressed that Kosovo should ensure continued commitment to the Implementation and Monitoring Council.
On employment, the parties agreed that there is a need to create a synergy between various state agencies, laws and strategies, to ensure that there is an increase in employment opportunities and increased support by Kosovo for employment promotion measures. The European Commission encouraged Kosovo to set up an action plan for tackling youth unemployment based on an assessment of the challenges and focusing on improving education outcomes and supporting school-to-work transitions. The parties recognised that greater efforts are needed to enforce the law on labour and legislation on health and safety at work, especially as regards the issue of the insufficient number of labour inspectors.
On information society, Kosovo agreed to address resource needs, particularly with regard to the implementation of the Cyber Security Strategy. The Commission urged the Independent Media Commission to accelerate the preparation of necessary bylaws and finalisation of the Strategy on Digital Switchover and to ensure that necessary funds are allocated for its implementation. On audiovisual policies, the Commission encouraged Kosovo to find a sustainable financing solution for the public broadcaster, in line with the EU acquis, as a matter of priority.