Officials from Kosovo and the European Union convened a digital meeting on 17 June 2021 to discuss developments over the past year in the areas of Trade, Industry, Customs and Taxation. The discussion was held in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which entered into force in April 2016. During the meeting, officials exchanged views on various areas, including trade, industry, customs, taxation and the free movement of goods. In all areas, the European Union and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the relevant priorities of the Economic Reform Programme and the recommendations from the Commission’s 2020 Kosovo Report.
In the area of trade, the parties discussed the trade deficit and development of trade policy. Bilateral trade figures with the EU have improved, despite the difficult social, economic and commercial situation caused by the pandemic. Kosovo’s commitment to the Common Regional Market (CRM) was welcomed. The Commission encouraged the continued implementation and strengthening of CEFTA, including trade facilitation, trade in services and dispute settlement. Regarding the investment climate, further alignment with EU regulations and best practices was encouraged. In this regard, progress on acquis alignment as regards vehicle homologation was also welcomed. The need to effectively address foreign investors’ grievances and to boost competitiveness to fully develop the export potential of enterprises, as well as the legal and regulatory framework for e-commerce were also discussed.
On customs and taxation, the Commission stressed the importance of further combating the informal economy and conducting a tax policy review that would pave the way for a comprehensive and thorough reform of tax policy, including the continuation of a gradual complete digitalisation of all tax services. On customs, Kosovo is continuing to work on the amendment of the Kosovo Customs and Excise Code to align it with EU legislation. The Commission also welcomed the intention of the government to gradually phase out the use of fee-paying, privately-owned inland customs terminals.
On industry and SME policy, the European Commission recalled the need for the Kosovo Investment and Enterprise Support Agency (KIESA) to better support investments and the private sector. The Commission welcomed Kosovo’s interest in participating in the Single Market Programme. Kosovo committed to continue to improve the business environment including through increased digitalisation and simplification of licences and permits. The promotion of alternative commercial dispute resolution such as mediation was discussed, as was the establishment of commercial courts.
On free movement of goods, discussion focussed on increasing the capacity of institutions and further alignment of legislation with the EU acquis in order to improve the quality infrastructure in the areas of standardisation, accreditation, conformity assessment, metrology and market surveillance.
- 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 EU-related reforms. 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.
- 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.