The European Union has played a leading role in the international effort to build a new future for Kosovo since 1999. Kosovo has a clear European perspective as part of the wider Western Balkans region.
The EU is active in Kosovo through its Special Representative (EUSR), and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) mission in the rule of law area (EULEX). The EU is also present through member countries’ Embassies and Liaison offices.
The European Union Office in Kosovo plays a pivotal role in implementing the EU agenda in the territory, especially the promotion of European norms. The Office ensures permanent political and technical dialogue between Kosovo and the EU institutions. The EUSR offers advice and support to the Government of Kosovo, coordinates the EU presence, and promotes human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) is the largest civilian mission ever launched under the European Security and Defence Policy. The aim is to assist the Kosovar authorities in the area of rule of law, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs. EULEX is a technical mission that mentors, monitors and advises, while retaining a number of limited executive powers.
Stabilisation & Association Process
The Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) is the European policy framework for relations between the EU and the Western Balkan countries, all the way to their eventual accession to the Union. The partnership between the EU and the Western Balkans is in the interest of all sides, promoting peace, stability, freedom, security and justice, prosperity and quality of life. The SAP promotes stabilisation and the transition to a market economy, regional cooperation and preparation for EU accession.
The EU has conducted regular meetings with the Kosovar authorities as part of the Stabilisation and Association Process Dialogue (SAPD). This monitors progress in the EU enlargement process, following a "carrots and sticks" approach (see the Economic Relations section below). With the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Kosovo on 1 April 2016, the dialogue framework will be reformed – discussions will take place within the SAA framework, in sub-committees.
The EU and the Kosovar authorities are discussing a wide range of policy issues and agreeing on follow-up actions in meeting conclusions. Plenary meetings are held once a year. Prior to each SAP Dialogue, the EU discusses the same issues with local civil society. Annual Country Reports assess the readiness of the Western Balkan countries to move closer to the EU.
Specific sectoral meetings have been set up for technical discussions in the following areas: justice, freedom and security; innovation, information society and social policy; agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food safety; internal market, competition and consumer/health protection; trade, industry, customs and taxation; transport, energy, environment and regional development; and economic and fiscal matters. Sectoral meetings take place once a year.