Representatives of Kosovo and the European Commission met virtually to discuss the developments in the areas of agriculture, processed agricultural products, rural development, fisheries, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary matters. The discussion was held in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which entered into force in April 2016. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including policy, legislative and enforcement developments in agriculture and rural development in Kosovo, strengthening of import controls on food and animals, systematisation of data entry into the animal identification and registration database, land use and land consolidation, agriculture import and export statistics, organic farming and the performance of institutions responsible for agriculture and food safety.
Agriculture and food safety has benefited from substantial EU assistance so far, notably in the EU’s contribution to rural development and in the field of food safety. During the meeting it was recalled that EU standards need to be applied in practice at all levels: in the control of imports and exports, registration of animals, food growing practices, food processing, labelling and in trade. A number of control bodies are involved in guaranteeing these standards, from health officials to inspectors, veterinarians and laboratories. These have partially been set up in Kosovo, to ensure enforcement of the EU standards, and need to be reinforced. In this regard, the transfer of the veterinary inspectors from municipalities to the Food and Veterinary Agency was welcomed. A number of relevant laws, as well as the Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development 2022-2028 were adopted by the Government, but these pieces of new legislation still require approval by the Assembly. Efforts to register geographical indications and to deploy agriculture information systems should continue.
Aligning with EU standards, to develop fisheries and aquaculture, could also bring commercial opportunities, jobs, and important source of income for rural communities.
- 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 European agenda. 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 of relations with Serbia.
- 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.