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On Wednesday, 6 March 2019, representatives from Kosovo and the European Commission met in Brussels to discuss developments over the past year in the areas of public procurement, intellectual property rights, rights of establishment and free movement of services, competition policy, movement of capital, financial services and company law, consumer and health protection. 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 relevant European Reform Agenda and Economic Reform Programme priorities as well as the recommendations from the Commission’s 2018 Report on Kosovo.
As regards public procurement, the Commission welcomed positive developments on the rolling out of the e-procurement platform and its mandatory use since 1st of January 2019. The Commission stressed the importance of enforcing the Law on Public Procurement and improve transparency at all stages of the public procurement process. Further professionalisation of public procurement through capacity building and increased inter-institutional cooperation and systematic monitoring of contract implementation, were also highlighted during the discussions. The Commission invited Kosovo to ensure that the Procurement Review Body’s Board is fully operational and has sufficient capacity to guarantee a well-functioning remedy system.
On intellectual property rights (IPR), the Commission welcomed awareness raising activities organized in the sector. It highlighted the need for the Government to continue aligning with the EU acquis and address the capacity constraints to ensure effective implementation and enforcement of IPR legislation.
On rights of establishment and freedom to provide services, the Commission invited Kosovo to further align and implement both, the Law on Services and the Law on Regulated Professions. Both parties acknowledged the importance to continue with the further opening of the postal market to competition.
Further to competition, the Commission invited the Kosovo Competition Authority (KCA) to develop an action plan on competition policy to align its legislation to the EU acquis and strengthen its capacity to be able to enforce legislation. The organisation of training and advocacy measures on competition policy among staff and relevant stakeholders, especially judges, was also highlighted. With regard to state aid, the Commission underlined the need to appoint the members of the State Aid Commission to become operational and be able to establish the inventory of aligned State Aid schemes by April 2019 as foreseen in the SAA.
On the movement of capital, financial services and company law, the Commission welcomed the developments in the area of property rights for foreign citizens. The parties agreed on the need to increase efforts to fight informal economy, money laundering and financial crime. The Commission welcomed steps in improving a level playing field in the area of business organisation as well as for improved standards in accounting, auditing and financial reporting.
As regards consumer protection, the parties agreed on the need to reinforce the level of awareness and protection of consumer rights. The Commission encouraged adequate capacity as well as involvement of consumer associations and other relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the recently adopted legislative framework.
Finally, on health, both agreed that it is important to address the health policies holistically with a need for increased cooperation and coordination across sectors. The Commission welcomed the developments in the legislative framework but also stressed the importance of adopting sustainable financial provisions to provide adequate primary health care services and mandatory health insurance. The Commission invited Kosovo to conduct a health impact assessment on air pollution.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the framework for the EU and the Kosovo administration to regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda.
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 conclusions from the meetings are available on the website of the EU Office in Kosovo https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo_en. 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, Regional Development; Economic and Financial Issues, Statistics. Two Special Groups cover the reform of the public administration and normalisation of relations with Serbia.
Each sub-Committee meeting monitors and accompanies Kosovo's delivery on reforms and identifies how the EU can assist in this process. The meetings also provide direct input into the European Commission's annual reports.