FINAL CONCLUSIONS -
Representatives of Kosovo and the European Commission met in Brussels to discuss the developments in the areas of agriculture, rural development, forestry, fisheries and food safety. The discussion was held in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) which entered into force in April 2016. In all areas, the Commission and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the European Reform Agenda and Economic Reform Program priorities. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, such as enhancing import controls on food and animals; strengthening food safety inside Kosovo; systematisation of data entry into the animal identification, registration and movement database; sustainable management of forests, land use and land consolidation, agriculture import and export statistics and the performance of institutions responsible for agriculture and food safety.
Kosovo’s consumers deserve to eat food of the same safety and quality as the citizens of the European Union. The Commission outlined that for this to happen, EU standards need to be applied at all levels: in the control of imports and exports, in the registration of animals, in what practices are allowed in growing food, in the way that food is processed and then labelled and sold. A number of control bodies are involved in guaranteeing those standards: health officials, inspectors, veterinarians, laboratories. These have totally or partially been set up in Kosovo and are in the process of enforcing EU standards.
There were also discussions – where participants conveyed also key messages from Civil Society Organisations - on a number of sectors, such as Kosovo’s nascent organic agriculture sector, the role of women in agriculture and measures to reduce polluters affecting agricultural land and production.
Forestry was also discussed, as Kosovo attempts to balance the economic benefits from such an extensive resource with the need to preserve these forests for the future. The meeting considered how best to stop harmful activities such as illegal logging and deforestation. Agriculture and food safety has benefited from substantial assistance so far, notably in the EU's contribution to the rural grants scheme, and this will continue to be a priority in the future.
• The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) is the framework for the EU and the Kosovo administration to regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda. The SAA bodies include the Stabilisation and Association Council, assisted by the Stabilisation and Association Committee, as well as SAA Sub-Committees, which cover a wide range of the EU acquis. The meetings of the SAA bodies provide direct input into the European Commission's annual reports.
• Each Sub-Committee meeting monitors and accompanies Kosovo's delivery on reforms and identifies how the EU can assist in this process.
• There are seven areas covered through sectorial meetings of sub-Committees, 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, Climate Change and Regional Development; Economic and Financial Issues, Statistics.
• Two other areas covered through the meetings of special groups are the reform of the public administration and normalisation of relations with Serbia.
• SA Committee and Sub-Committee meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and Kosovo. Each meeting results in jointly agreed follow-up actions to be taken by the Kosovo authorities.
The time between the meetings allows for the implementation of the recommendations and agreed follow-up actions. The conclusions of the meetings are public and available on the EU Office's website and http://www.mei-ks.net.