Given the importance of Kosovo’s rural economy and agriculture (17% in the total value added in the economy but also the main source of income for the majority of the population), meeting European norms in these areas is both a challenge and an opportunity for Kosovo, also in view of future negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. This agreement will contain many provisions on trade and therefore condition Kosovo’s capacity to import and export agricultural and agri-food products with the EU.
Kosovo is in the process of implementing a multi-year Agriculture and Rural Development Plan as well as preparing a new one from 2014-2020, in order to improve the competitiveness of Kosovo’s rural economy. This includes establishing a system of rural grants and coupled payments to farmers in certain key sectors similar to that in theEU and which has been developed with considerable EU assistance. This is an essential step for Kosovo to build the structures to implement the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The meeting discussed the success of this scheme and how to ensure that it will prepare Kosovo for the CAP, as well as how to select sectors to support. In addition, the schemes are to be accompanied by advisory services which would help potential beneficiaries. There was also a discussion on how to develop organic agriculture in Kosovo and how to improve the quality of Kosovo’s agricultural statistics, an issue that will have to be addressed during the SAA negotiations if Kosovo is to understand better the effect of trade liberalisation measures.
Kosovo’s capacity to control food quality and food safety was also part of the discussion. Kosovo has been building up a computer system to trace animals, and this system is finally operational although Kosovo will need to improve the reliability of the input of data. Also discussed were the veterinary and phyto-sanitary controls at the borders, which have an added significance with the implementation of IBM between Kosovo and Serbia. The meeting considered the need to upgrade Kosovo’s food business operators to guarantee that the food eaten by Kosovo citizens conforms to the same EU standards as the rest of Europe. The capacity of Kosovo’s food laboratory was discussed, using the recent aflatoxin crisis as an example: whilst Kosovo’s laboratories can carry out the tests to detect positive or suspect samples, these need to be confirmed by a laboratory outside Kosovo. Once Kosovo’s laboratory is accredited (this year if all goes well) this will help Kosovo deal with crises such as these.
The meeting also examined the measures that Kosovo is taking to balance the economic potential of forests with the need to manage this resource in a sustainable fashion. Kosovo is taking steps to improve forestry management, which has been decentralised to municipalities to a large extent, but will need to devote more attention to reducing the level of illegal logging.
Discussion of agriculture and food safety is particularly relevant as the EU plans to devote substantial assistance resources to this area in the coming years. The new IPA programme will begin in 2014, and the EC will use Kosovo’s policy documents in the programming process.
The SAP Dialogue is a framework under which the European Commission and the Kosovo administration regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda. The SAP Dialogue monitors and accompanies Kosovo’s delivery on reforms, and identifies how the EU can assist in this process. Sectoral and plenary SAP Dialogue meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and the government. Each meeting results in jointly agreed follow-up actions to be taken by the Kosovo authorities.
There are seven areas covered in sectoral meetings and they follow closely the format of the dialogue that the EU has with other candidates and potential candidates. These seven sectors are:
– 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
The time between the meetings allows for the implementation of the recommendations and agreed follow-up actions. A plenary meeting, where the reform priorities will be discussed, is expected to take place in July 2013. The conclusions of the meetings are public and available on the EU Office’s website and http://www.mei-ks.net/.
Last modified: August 16, 2022