Representatives of Kosovo and the European Commission met in Brussels to discuss the developments in the areas of agriculture, rural development, 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. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, beside policy, legislative and enforcement developments in agriculture and rural development, also enhancing import controls on food and animals, strengthening food safety inside Kosovo, systematisation of data entry into the animal identification, registration and movement database, land use and land consolidation, agriculture import and export statistics and the performance of institutions responsible for agriculture and food safety.
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 partially been set up in Kosovo and are in the process of enforcing EU standards.
Agriculture and food safety has benefited from substantial EU assistance so far, notably in the EU's contribution to the rural grants scheme.
• 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.