Prishtina, 11 October 2021
The second meeting of the Ministerial Council for European Integration was held on the Action Plan for the implementation of the European Reform Agenda ERA II.
At the opening of the meeting, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, stressed the important work towards the implementation of the second phase of priorities for integration into the European Union, agreed together with the European Union.
“Since Kosovo has now entered the second phase of implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, these priorities are critical to our path towards full integration into the European Union. By implementing them, we will also improve the functioning of our institutions, strengthen the rule of law and create more space and opportunities for new jobs and sustainable economic development,” said the Prime Minister, emphasizing that these are also priorities of our governing program.
Concrete tasks and possible challenges during the next two years of implementation of the European Reform Agenda were discussed during the meeting.
The meeting was also attended by the First Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Development and Dialogue, Besnik Bislimi, the Third Deputy Prime Minister for Minority and Human Rights, Emilija Redžepi, other members of the government cabinet and representatives of independent institutions and agencies.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Development and Dialogue together with the relevant Directorates of European Integration will regularly monitor the reform implementation process and will work closely with ministries, the Assembly of Kosovo, councils and independent agencies to meet the obligations of the European Reform Agenda.
The full speech of Prime Minister Kurti:
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Besnik Bislimi,
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Emilija Redžepi,
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers,
Honourable representatives of independent institutions,
Honourable other participants,
Allow me to open the second meeting of the Ministerial Council for European Integration, thanking you for participating in this meeting and the important work towards the implementation of the second phase of the priorities for integration into the European Union, agreed together with the European Union.
These 15 priorities, in the form of an Action Plan for the implementation of the European Reform Agenda, were approved by the Government on 11 August, and by the Assembly on 4 October. This document foresees key political, economic and rule of law reforms for the implementation of the Stabilization and Association Agreement. As Kosovo has now entered the second phase of implementing the SAA, these priorities are critical to our path towards full integration into the European Union. But, that is not all. By implementing them, we will also improve the functioning of our institutions, strengthen the rule of law and create more space and opportunities for new jobs and sustainable economic development. These are also priorities of our governing program.
As in this meeting we will discuss the implementation of reforms to meet these priorities over the next two years and the concrete tasks of each institution in this regard, let me emphasize my expectations as Prime Minister and as Chairman of the Ministerial Council for European Integration.
First, direct communication in recent months with leaders of the European Union and member states – including Chancellor Merkel, President Macron and European Commission President Von der Leyen – has reaffirmed their readiness to support Kosovo, politically and financially (in particular through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans) in the implementation of European Union integration reforms. This is despite the fact that most member states currently lack consensus to speed up the process of accession of new member states. In this regard, we expect the decision to be taken as soon as possible to abolish the visa regime for our country, since we have met the criteria for years now, and in July it is 3 years since the European Commission recommended for the second time the abolition of visa regime for Kosovo.
However, the delays on the part of the European Union should not upset us, but increase our commitment to more engagement. We must carry out the tasks we have set for ourselves to implement the reforms required by the ERA and meet the political priorities much faster and better than before. Reforms with tangible changes are necessary in the first place to make Kosovo a stable economy and a democratic country ruled by law and justice, and consequently a society that will be naturally welcomed in the family of European democratic countries.
Secondly, as far as we as a Government and as a country are concerned, unlike previous governments, it is encouraging that we now have political stability, with a stable parliamentary majority. This is a critical precondition that has been lacking in the past and will greatly facilitate our work in implementing these reforms, and consequently our performance as a country in this regard. The fact that we now also have significantly more local ownership of these reforms will contribute to the latter. This is because it is necessary for all of us as institutions to really integrate them in our concrete and daily work, and not to see them as something abstract and imposed from outside.
Therefore, I call on all institutions to implement in a timely and proper manner all the actions provided in this important document. These priorities will serve as a guide in my direct work as Prime Minister with the leaders of the European Union and the Member States. At the same time, I will constantly hold accountable my entire cabinet and all levels of Government I lead, to ensure the implementation of these reforms both on time and in the right way. We also expect the Assembly, the institutions of the justice system and other independent institutions to address with dedication the implementation of the reform actions that you have undertaken with this document. I, as Prime Minister, and the Government I lead, are ready to support you in this regard.
Thirdly, let me underline something that is concretely expected to be achieved together as state institutions by mid-2023 out of the 15 priorities of the European Reform Agenda.
As part of the first pillar, for good governance and the rule of law, Kosovo in the first place is expected to show significantly better results than so far in the fight against corruption and organized crime, improving governance in the field of justice system and internal affairs, and consequently the public confidence in effective justice. We are also expected to complete the public administration reform, launched long ago, in order to establish the functioning of public institutions on the basis of sound principles and European standards. Likewise, we are expected to show significantly better results than so far in protecting and respecting fundamental rights, including gender equality and minority rights. Last in this pillar, but no less important, we are expected to address the existing shortcomings in the electoral system.
Under the second pillar, for competitiveness, investment climate and sustainable development, Kosovo, as an urgent task, is expected to recover the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to return to normalcy. We are also expected to significantly improve the business environment and other preconditions for the growth of existing enterprises and the attraction of foreign investment, thus building a more competitive market economy in the region and beyond. Equally important, we need to improve the functioning of institutions for competition and state aid, as without free and fair competition in the market there is no sustainable economic development with equal opportunities for all.
As we still live in a rather polluted environment, we are also expected to significantly improve environmental protection based on the long-term vision for the whole region and the continent, set out in the European Union Green Deal and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. In this regard, and as we still face energy insecurity, we need to significantly improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy, which will also enable us to diversify energy sources. We also need to reform public procurement and public finances, which are critical to spending public funds as efficiently, transparently and responsibly as possible.
Under the third pillar, for employment, education and health, we must work on social recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, increase employment, but also the safety and health at work of those who are employed, and improve the well-being of citizens. Since without quality education there can be no sustainable employment, we need to improve governance and the quality of education at all levels. Last in this pillar, we need to improve our health system.
I invite you to this meeting to openly discuss the concrete tasks that await us, but also to make clear the challenges that may await us and how they should be addressed, during the next two years of implementation of the European Reform Agenda.
Thank you very much for your attention.