Kosovo and European Union held the 5th Stabilisation and Association Agreement Sub-committee on Internal Market, Competition and Health and Consumer Protection. Representatives from Kosovo and the European Commission discussed developments over the past year in the areas of public procurement, intellectual property rights, rights of establishment and free movement of services, competition policy, movement of capital, financial services and company law, consumer and health protection. The discussion was held in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), which entered into force in April 2016. In all areas, the Commission and Kosovo agreed on the importance of implementing the relevant European Reform Agenda and Economic Reform Programme priorities as well as the recommendations from the Commission’s 2020 Report on Kosovo.
Many of the issues discussed relate to ensuring a competitive economy, including facilitating business and creating a level playing field for companies doing business as well as consumers using those services.
On public procurement, the Kosovo authorities presented on the recent work in drafting a new procurement law as well as implementation of electronic procurement. Commission welcomed the strengthened cooperation between the Public Procurement Regulatory Commission and Public Procurement Review Body as well as the progress achieved until now on further aligning Kosovo’s legislative framework with EU acquis. The Commission highlighted that preferential treatment of local producers and local services in public procurement contracts is not in line with the SAA provisions and must be abolished.
As regards the enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights, the authorities presented the latest developments including the legislative agenda and implementation. The Commission reminded that Kosovo had committed to guarantee, within five years of the entry into force of the SAA, a level of protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights equivalent to that applied in the EU. The Commission also encouraged the ongoing work in preparing draft legislation on patents, trademark, industrial design, and Trade Secrets.
On rights of establishment and freedom to provide services, while welcoming the launch of the Contact Point for Services platform, the Commission stressed that further efforts are necessary for the harmonization process of local legislation with the Services Directive. The Commission welcomed the reform of postal services, which still needs to be opened further to competition in the interests of consumer and business users. On mutual recognition of professional qualifications, the Commission would like to see more progress in mapping the regulated professions in Kosovo and progress in establishing a detailed list of regulated professions.
As regards free competition, the parties discussed on the latest developments including the amendment of the law and enforcement efforts. Commission acknowledged the efforts made by Kosovo in enhancing cooperation with sector regulators and recent proactive and professional decisions of the Kosovo Competition Authority enforcing competition rules.
On State Aid, the Commission welcomed the fact that State Aid authorities updated the State aid inventory with new schemes. Notwithstanding the difficulties brought on by the pandemic, efforts were made to follow-up on existing schemes and strengthening the control on State aid.
On the movement of capital, financial services and company law, the Commission noted the recent adoption of the National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing as well as the adoption of the law on Property Rights of Foreign Citizens over the property rights of the foreign natural and legal persons. The Commission welcomed the drafting of the corporate governance code and expects its adoption soon.
As regards consumer protection, the Commission acknowledged the work to implement the 2018 Law on Consumer Protection but recalled that some elements still need to be removed and further aligned with EU acquis. The importance of awareness and protection of consumers’ rights and traders’ bligations was stressed, as well as the need to involve consumer associations and other relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the legal framework. The Commission pointed at the lack of human resources, notably inspectors for ensuring sufficient protection of consumers.
Finally, on health, the discussion took place against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commission highlighted the importance and the need for sustainable funding in the field of public health in order to facilitate health care reforms and to provide for quality and accessible public healthcare for all citizens. The Commission also stressed the importance of sustainable financial provisions to provide adequate primary health care services and mandatory health insurance.
The Stabilisation and Association Agreement is the framework for the EU and the Kosovo administration to regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda.
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 conclusions from the meetings are available on the website of the EU Office in Kosovo https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/kosovo_en. 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, Regional Development; Economic and Financial Issues, Statistics. Two Special Groups cover the reform of the public administration and normalisation of relations with Serbia.
Each sub-Committee meeting monitors and accompanies Kosovo’s delivery on reforms and identifies how the EU can assist in this process. The meetings also provide direct input into the European Commission's annual reports.
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 conclusions from the meetings will be available soon on the websites of the EU Office in Kosovo and Government European Integration section.