Integrimi Evropian

European Integration

SAA – background and content

The Stabilization-Association Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, on the one hand, and the Republic of Kosovo, on the other (SAA), establishes the first contractual relationship between Kosovo and the EU. As such, it constitutes a new phase of political relations between the contracting parties, aiming at Kosovo’s membership in the EU. As an international agreement, the SAA defines the official deadlines for the implementation of reforms that will bring Kosovo progressively closer to the EU until it meets EU standards in all policy areas, as well as common institutional mechanisms for this purpose. It also constitutes the framework of Kosovo’s relations with member states and EU institutions for the implementation of the Stabilization-Association Process (SAP).

The process towards the SAA negotiations started at the beginning of 2012. On February 28, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU member states, in the EU Council for General Affairs and Foreign Affairs (GAERC), took the decision to support the initiative of the European Commission (EC) to carry out Feasibility Study (FS) for this agreement. After conducting the FS, during the period March – July 2012, it was published in October 2012. The Feasibility Study for the SAA concluded that there was no legal obstacles for the EU to initiate the SAA with Kosovo and that Kosovo was ready to start negotiations for this agreement. He also asked Kosovo to fulfill four short-term criteria in order to start negotiations, regarding the rule of law, public administration, protection of minorities and trade.

On December 12, 2012, GAERC had approved the EC’s proposal for the commencement of these negotiations and its intention to propose the relevant directives. Later, in April 2013, the EC had published a monitoring report on the implementation of the four short-term FS criteria, through which it confirmed that Kosovo had fulfilled them. Based on this report, on June 28, 2013, GAERC decided to start negotiations for the SAA between the EU and Kosovo.

The negotiations had begun on October 28, 2013, with the first meeting of the Chief Negotiators. After the opening of negotiations, focusing on chapters IV, V and VI, the second round of these negotiations, held on November 27, 2013 focused on the conclusion of these three chapters, in which case negotiations were also opened for chapters I, III , VII, VIII, IX and X. The third and fourth rounds took place in December 2013 and February 2014 respectively, while the fifth round (on 24th March 2014) focused on the last remaining chapter, chapter II, on political dialogue. After five rounds of negotiations, the SAA was approved by the Chief Negotiators at their final meeting, on May 2, 2014, in Pristina, with the setting of initials. With this, the negotiations were concluded.

Subsequently, the SAA was approved by the European Commission, on April 30, 2015 and was signed by the EU and the Republic of Kosovo on October 27, 2015, in Strasbourg. The SAA was approved by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on October 30, 2015 and ratified by the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo on November 2, 2015. The approval procedures for the SAA were concluded with its approval by the EU Council, on January 12, 2016, andratification by the European Parliament, on January 21, 2016, and. Finally, in accordance with Article 144, paragraph 2 thereof, the SAA entered into force on April 1, 2016.

Article 9, paragraph 1, of the SAA provides that “this association will be implemented progressively and fully over a period of ten years”. This implies that the integration relationship between the EU and Kosovo, through the association process that this agreement regulates, will be achieved by March 31, 2026, meaning it will be implemented by this date. Article 9 also foresees that the implementation of the SAA will be assessed by the Stabilization and Association Council (SAC), as the highest joint EU-Kosovo body responsible for supervising its implementation. In addition, in accordance with paragraph 5 of this article, the SAC is also obliged to carry out two comprehensive assessments of the implementation of the SAA: the mid-term assessment, at the end of the fifth year of its entry into force, and the assessment at the end of the tenth year. Based on these two assessments, the SAC can make decisions that regulate the further progress of integration, through association, between the EU and Kosovo.

In terms of scope, apart from political issues, SAA covers all spheres of governance. It contains the main part, with 144 articles, divided into ten chapters, as well as seven appendices, five protocols and a joint declaration. More specifically, the provisions of the main part are structured as follows:

  • Preamble (25 points);
  • The purpose of the agreement (Articles 1 – 2);
  • Chapter I: General principles (Articles 3 – 10);
  • Chapter II: Political dialogue (Articles 11 – 15);
  • Chapter III: Regional cooperation (Articles 16 – 19);
  • Chapter IV: Free movement of goods (Articles 20 – 49);
  • Chapter V: Establishment, provision of services and capital (Articles 50 – 73);
  • Chapter VI: Alignment of Kosovo Law with EU Acquis, Law Enforcement and Competition Rules (Articles 74 – 82);
  • Chapter VII: Freedom, security and justice (Articles 83 – 92);
  • Chapter VIII: Cooperation policy (articles 93 – 120);
  • Chapter IX: Financial cooperation (Articles 121 – 125); and
  • Chapter X: Institutional, general and final provisions (Articles 126 – 144).

The vast majority of the SAA is based on the EU`s Acquis– in the EU, respectively the set of legal norms applicable within its territory and by all member states as legal entities.

If we place it in the context of policy areas according to the structure of the Copenhagen Criteria, SAA is structured according to policy areas and specific issues as follows:

  • Political criteria:
    • Political dialogue: Kosovo’s relations with the EU, regional cooperation, international obligations and normalization of relations with Serbia (Articles 1 – 19);
    • Public administration (Article 120);
  • Economic criteria: Existence of a functioning market economy, and the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union (Articles 1, 3);
  • European standards – chapters of the EU Acquis:
    • Alignment of local legislation with the EU Acquis (Article 74);
    • Chapter 1 of the Acquis: Free movement of goods (Articles 20 – 49, 80);
    • Chapter 2 of the Acquis: Freedom of movement of workers (Article 82);
    • Chapter 3 of the Acquis: The right to establish businesses and the freedom to provide services (Articles 50 – 63);
    • Chapter 4 of the Acquis: Free movement of capital (Articles 64 – 73, 96);
    • Chapter 5 of the Acquis; Public procurement (Article 79);
    • Chapter 6 of the Acquis: Company law (Article 75);
    • Chapter 7 of the Acquis: Intellectual property rights (Articles 77-78);
    • Chapter 8 of the Acquis: Competition policies; (Articles 75 – 76);
    • Chapter 9 of the Acquis: Financial services (Articles 52, 54 , 96);
    • Chapter 10 of the Acquis: Information society and media (Articles 109 – 112);
    • Chapter 11 of the Acquis: Agriculture and rural development (Article 102);
    • Chapter 12 of the Acquis: Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policies (Article 102)
    • Chapter 13 of the Acquis: Fisheries (Article 103)
    • Chapter 14 of the Acquis: Transport policies (Article 113);
    • Chapter 15 of the Acquis: Energy (Article 114);
    • Chapter 16 of the Acquis: Taxes (Article 105);
    • Chapter 17 of the Acquis: Economic and monetary policies (Article 94);
    • Chapter 18 of the Acquis: Statistics (Article 95);
    • Chapter 19 of the Acquis: Social policies and employment (Articles 82, 106,
    • Chapter 20 of the Acquis: Enterprises and industrial policies (Article 98 – 101);
    • Chapter 21 of the Acquis: Trans-European networks (Articles 60, 113 – 114);
    • Chapter 22 of the Acquis: Regional policies and coordination of structural instruments (Articles 119, 121 – 125);
    • Chapter 23 of the Acquis: Judiciary and fundamental rights (Articles 83 – 84);
    • Chapter 24 of the Acquis: Justice, freedom and security (Articles 85 – 92);
    • Chapter 25 of the Acquis: Science and scientific research (Article 118);
    • Chapter 26 of the Acquis: Education and culture (Articles 107 – 108);
    • Chapter 27 of the Acquis: Environment (Articles 115 – 117);
    • Chapter 28 of the Acquis: Consumer and public health protection (Article 81);
    • Chapter 29 of the Acquis: Customs Union (Article 104);
    • Chapter 30 of the Acquis: Foreign relations (Article 94);
    • Chapter 31 of the Acquis: Foreign, security and defense policy (Article 11); and
    • Chapter 32 of the Acquis: Financial control (Article 97).

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