Kosovo’s EU integration path: excerpts from EC Country Report 2018
There is some level of preparation in the area of public administration reform. Some progress has been made especially with the review of agencies and (semi)independent bodies. The continued politicisation of the public administration remains a concern, and adversely affects the efficiency and professional independence of the public administration.
Kosovo's judicial system is at an early stage. Some progress has been achieved in implementing the 2015 justice package laws. The integration of Kosovo Serb judges and prosecutors and their support staff across Kosovo into the Kosovo judicial system was a big achievement of 2017.
Kosovo is at an early stage/has some level of preparation in the fight against corruption. Kosovo has made some progress as regards the track record on the investigation and prosecution for high level corruption and organised crime cases, including final convictions. Progress was also made on preliminary confiscation of assets although final confiscations remain low.
The legal framework broadly guarantees the protection of human and fundamental rights in line with European standards. However, additional efforts are needed regarding enforcement. Implementation of human rights strategies and legislation is often undermined by inadequate financial and other resources, particularly at local level, limited political prioritisation and lack of coordination.
More needs to be done to effectively guarantee the rights of persons belonging to practice, to set up an integrated child protection system and to advance the protection of cultural heritage. Kosovo has some level of preparation in the area of freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution. Kosovo benefits from a pluralistic and lively media environment.
As regards the economic criteria, Kosovo has made good progress and is at an early stage of developing a functioning market economy. The business environment has improved and the government adhered to the fiscal rule on budget deficit. The informal economy remains widespread.
The increase in the labour force participation rate was not matched by gains in employment so the unemployment rate increased further. It particularly affected women and young and unskilled workers. Despite strong export growth the high trade deficit reflects a weak production base.
Kosovo has made some progress and is at an early stage in terms of capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the EU. No progress was made on improving the quality of education and addressing skills gaps in the labour market.
Kosovo made some progress in improving road infrastructure but large infrastructure gaps in the railway and energy sectors remain. Structural changes in the economy are slow as it remains reliant on the retail trade sector. Integration with the EU is hampered by the slow implementation of the SAA.
As regards alignment with European standards, Kosovo is at an early stage. Legislative alignment has continued in some areas but implementation is weak. Some progress was made in the area of free movement of goods and services, public procurement and competition as well as in improving the business environment. In the area of taxation and customs, some progress was also made in collecting revenue and simplifying administrative procedures, but Kosovo should step up the fight against the informal economy and tax evasion.
The energy sector continues to face serious challenges. No progress has been achieved to address environmental issues. Overall, Kosovo needs to improve its administrative capacity and coordination, across all sectors, to ensure effective implementation of the acquis.
Authorities have made progress in managing regular and irregular migration. These efforts should be continued and built on. In this context, Kosovo needs to put in place a return mechanism for irregular migrants in line with EU standards and practices.
Read the full, European Commission Kosovo Country Report 2018: