Kosovo announces plans to apply for EU membership

Kosovo announces plans to apply for EU membership
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje December 7, 2021

Kosovo has informed the EU about its intention to apply for EU membership, the Council of the EU said on December 7.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but it is still not recognised by Belgrade as a separate state. Five EU members also do not recognise Kosovo. This effectively stymies its progess towards EU accession until a resolution is reached with Serbia, which is already in the midst of accession negotiations. 

At the meeting in Brussels, the members of the Stabilisation and Association Council (SA Council) reviewed Kosovo’s progress on its European path following the publication of the European Commission’s 2021 report on Kosovo. The parties welcomed Kosovo’s renewed commitment to its European path.

The meeting was chaired by Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti. The EU delegation was led by High Representative Josep Borrell, and included Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi.

The parties discussed recent developments relating to the fulfillment of the political criteria, as well as the state of play concerning the economic criteria, financial cooperation and implementation of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), the Council of the EU said in the statement.

The SA Council members agreed on the need for Kosovo to continue with reforms and required increased focus by all political actors, strengthening of the administrative capacities and an effective coordination structure within the Kosovan institutions.

The parties reiterated the importance of visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens.

They noted the Kosovan government’s commitment to enhance the rule of law, fight against corruption and organised crime and respect for fundamental rights, as well as to pursue public administration reform and economic development, and support education and employment.

The meeting underlined the importance of constructive engagement in the EU-facilitated dialogue with Serbia to negotiate and achieve a comprehensive legally binding normalisation agreement.

“This is crucial in order for Kosovo and Serbia to advance on their respective European paths. All past agreements need to be respected and fully implemented,” it was said.

Borrell was cited by Kosovan broadcaster RTK as saying that the meeting between Kosovo’s PM Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is unlikely to take place this year. He added that there can be no new high-level meeting until the previous commitments are not implemented.

Borrell said that the establishment of the Association of Serbian Municipalities is part of the Brussels agreements and this part of the agreement must be implemented by the Kosovan side.

Varhelyi said that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia needs to be accelerated in order for the Western Balkans to benefit from the economic investment plan, RTK reported.