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The Head of the EU Office in Kosovo/EU Special Representative, Nataliya Apostolova, addressed the Assembly Economic Committee today raising concern over monopoly in vehicle homologation and imposition of non-tariff barriers for new vehicles, causing unnecessary expense to the people of Kosovo.
The EU is concerned that the Government’s Administrative Instruction 02/2018 on vehicle homologation will lead to the extension of the monopoly, as the current set-up implies an automatic extension of an economic operator which has had an exclusive agreement since 2008. This practice runs against the spirit of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) and creates barriers to trade.
“Competition among homologation service providers will reduce price and enable better services for the people of Kosovo”, Ambassador Apostolova told members of the Assembly Committee for Economic Development, Infrastructure, Trade, Industry and Regional Development. “Currently, citizens pay for a service available only in Pristina at a substantially higher price than others in the region.”
Ambassador Apostolova also expressed concern regarding the mandatory homologation and verification of certificates of conformity of new cars originating from the EU. Despite being equipped with Certificates of Conformity from EU manufacturers, all new vehicles are obliged to go through homologation process and first technical control in Kosovo.
“This is against EU competition rules. Under the EU legislation, the new vehicles with a valid EU homologation have to be accepted for sale and registration without any further checking or costs. This is a serious trade barrier.”
Kosovo's Competition Authority has issued a recommendation stating that the homologation system in place is against fair competition and the EU strongly encourages the Ministry of Infrastructure to pay full consideration to the professional opinion on car vehicle homologation issued by the Kosovo Competition Authority.
The EU is putting a major effort and money to support Kosovo in addressing the monopoly practises. To this effect, the EU is financing a 3 million EUR technical assistance project on Competition and State Aid, launched in January this year.
“Without political will, however, without strong leadership from the authorities, changes will not happen”, Ambassador Apostolova reminded. “I call upon the members of the Assembly, who have an oversight function over the Government and represent the people of Kosovo, to ensure that consumers – the people – buy quality goods and services at best possible price.”
The Government of Kosovo committed itself to implementing EU related reforms, aligning itself to European standards. The practice on car homologation is harmful to the consumers and is against the spirit of the SAA. Changing such practices is fundamental to a successful implementation of the SAA, and most importantly, it is in the interest of the people of Kosovo, who should not be obliged to pay unnecessary fees.