Kosovo expects to get negotiation date

04/12/2012

Kosovo must focus on implementing the laws passed by parliament, experts say.

By Muhamet Brajshori for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 04/12/12

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Implementing laws passed by parliament is a key to reforms. [AFP]

In less than a week, the EU will make its ruling on whether Kosovo is prepared to start negotiations on a stabilisation and association agreement. On December 10th, the Union will review the European Commission recommendations in its feasibility study, which was presented in October.

The study confirmed that there is no legal obstacle to launching talks between Kosovo and the EU, but said that the country must complete necessary reforms in several sectors.

"The study has clearly outlined that Kosovo is largely ready to start the negotiations for [a stabilisation agreement], once it addresses several short-term priorities in the areas of rule of law, public administration, protection of minorities and trade capacities," Stojan Pelko, spokesperson of the EU Office in Kosovo, told SETimes.

Kosovo completed the major part of the legal framework for trade and internal markets. Until last year, trade was lacking substantial legal infrastructure especially in the legal framework governing safeguard measures, anti-dumping and countervailing measures and internal trade. "

We now have, and are implementing, modern laws that protect the interests of Kosovo in the field of trade and are in continuous step with the European integration process," Arta Istrefi, advisor to the Kosovo minister for trade and industry, told SETimes.

Elton Tota, a lecturer of EU Law at the Institute for Political and European Studies, said that Kosovo needs to implement the legislation it has adopted, especially on trade and custom related issues, which require more engagement from the respective institutions.

"Kosovo will have to improve its performance in the required indicators. On customs and phytosanitary control, legislation is in place but not implemented. Kosovo needs to do more to increase the implementation capacity in terms of legislation," Tota told SETimes.

Pelko said Kosovo has already started efforts in aligning its legislation with the EU Acquis, while the EU helps by providing expertise on areas which are more specific and complicated.

"Such negotiations usually take several years. In many fields we observe that Kosovo has good laws but lacks implementation. One crucial aspect in the future negotiations … will be the monitoring and implementation structures in the Kosovo government to assure that the legislation is being put into place," Pelko said.

The Commission also recommended that the country improve its statistics on business in Kosovo. Istrefi said that the Business Registration Agency undertook major reforms last year which resulted in improved data.

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"Co-operation with Customs and Tax Administration of Kosovo has [unified] the three [business registration] numbers in a number of businesses … this co-operation has led to [the improvement of] businesses statistics in Kosovo," Istrefi said.

Tota said the fulfillment of these conditions is more important for the country than the commencement of stabilisation and association agreement negotiations, because the reforms are necessary in order to keep up with the other regional countries.

Pelko agreed.

"The feasibility study concludes that Kosovo has implemented the initial essential reforms towards establishing a functioning market economy. Nevertheless, efforts are needed to better target economic policies, address fiscal consolidation, job creation and competitiveness issues, and to promote private investments," Pelko said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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