Kosovo’s EU candidate status: a goal within reach?

This Discussion paper argues that the absence of a common position among the member states on Kosovo’s status does not prevent the EU from substantial engagement with Kosovo. The legal obstacles facing Kosovo’s bid for candidate status may be surmountable. Article 49 of the Treaty on the European Union, which prima facie seems to impose a condition that Kosovo is unable to meet – that is, being qualified as a “state” – does not in fact require or entail Kosovo’s recognition as a state by the European Union, seeing that the Treaties do not foresee such a competence for the EU. Furthermore, Kosovo’s SAA seems to endorse a legal European perspective for the entity and may have already set a legal precedent that Kosovo could invoke in order to continue to strengthen its contractual relations with the Union. To access the Discussion Paper, please click here.

An Analysis of the Vetting Process in Albania

This report examines the vetting process of Albania as an institutional measure, reflecting upon the benefits and flaws of the vetting law. The first section considers the structure and methodology behind the vetting process and takes a deeper look at the vetting law of Albania. The following chapters analyze the opinion of the Venice Commission in regard to the law and take a closer look at the controversies that have been going on for months in the political arena of Albania. In addition to this, the Analysis provides a comparative analysis between Albania’s vetting process and the one applied in neighboring countries. Lastly, the final paragraphs of this paper provide and in-depth conclusive analysis on the benefits and flaws of the new Albanian vetting law. Vetting has often been a viable institutional mechanism for transitional democracies to assess judges and prosecutors’ suitability for public employment. One of the major objective of this reformative measure is to strengthen integrity and accountability in the public sector and restore confidence in national institutions and government. The overall process touches especially areas of the public sector which tend to be more vulnerable to violation of human rights, such as police, prison services, the army and, of course, the judiciary. The new Albanian vetting law will conduct thorough investigation and evaluation of skills, competencies, personality, assets and other aspects of a given individual of the judiciary system.  To access the Policy Analysis, please click here.

Assessment of the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017

Given that sustainable development and combating corruption is of crucial importance for a well-functioning democracy, this Policy Report aims to monitor the implementation of Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017. The Report highlights the progress of the Kosovo institutions in the political and rule of law sectors and assesses their efforts towards adequately implementing measures/actions set out in the Strategy. This Report also identifies the institutional failures, achievements, and challenges associated with the full implementation of the Strategy, and reflects on the preparedness of Kosovo institutions to combat corruption and promote anti-corruption actions. The following sections of this study are organized as follows: Section 2 provides an overview of the drafting, assessment and challenges of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and (Revised) Action Plan. Section 3 details the methodology utilized for this study. The achievements, challenges and failures that materialized during the monitoring process are presented in a matrix in Section 4. Section 5 interprets the overall institutional achievements vis-a-vis the implementation of the Strategy, focusing specifically on the political and rule of law sectors. The last section offers a conclusion and policy recommendations that can further enhance Kosovo’s capacity in the fight against corruption. To access the Policy Report, please click here.

ASSOCIATION OF SERB MAJORITY MUNICIPALITIES IN KOSOVO – Association Impasse

Four years ago in Brussels, on April 19th 2013, Kosovo and Serbia reached the “First agreement on principles governing the normalization of relations”. Widely known as The Brussels Agreement, the deal was reached through EU mediation. The agreement was immediately hailed as “historic” by EU, while there was unconditional praise from all sides, including UN. The exaltation was so high, there were even suggestions that the signatories of the agreement – then EU High representative Catherine Ashton, then Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, and then Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic – should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The cornerstone of the Brussels Agreement was the creation of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities in Kosovo, an institution tying together ten Serb-majority Kosovo municipalities. Six out of 15 points of the Agreement relate to the establishment, scope and functions of the proposed “Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo”, with this dual label as “Association/Community” reflecting different interpretations of the mandate this body will have. Since before the Agreement, the Government of Kosovo has continuously insisted that the Association will be nothing more than just an NGO, while the Government of Serbia has insisted it will be an autonomous entity that will have, as then prime minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic insisted – “key competencies” in governing itself. The EU facilitator continuously refused to clarify such differences of interpretation, to some extent because it did not want to take up the role of a mediator and thus share responsibility for implementation of the reached agreements, but also because what was labeled “constructive ambiguity” was necessary in order to reach the deals. The Association was accepted by the Kosovo government in return for the dismantlement of all the illegal Serbian security structures in the North as well as Serb participation in Kosovo elections. However, the First Agreement was just a framework that required further steps for the Association of Serb majority municipalities to be established. Hence, more than two years later, on August 26th 2015, at a dialogue round hosted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, the Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia, Isa Mustafa and Aleksandar Vucic, respectively, agreed on “the general principles and the main elements of the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities, which paves the way for its establishment”. At this meeting, they also agreed on the implementation of the energy agreement and the Action Plan for Telecoms (which were both parts of the First Agreement and already should have been completed two years earlier, in June 2013), as well as on arrangements for the Mitrovica Bridge. As in most other cases, these agreements were not implemented in a timely manner. Apart from the Association Agreement, the implementation of the other three deals never met the agreed deadline: After an escalation in December 2016, when the municipality of Mitrovica North erected a wall behind the Mitrovica Bridge, the “revitalization” agreement had to be renegotiated in order to avoid open Albanian-Serb confrontation in the divided town. The Agreement on Telecom was implemented almost one year later than envisaged while the Energy Agreement is still not implemented. To access the report, please click here.

 

How ‘friendly’ is Kosovo for Foreign Direct Investments: A Policy Review of Gaps from a Regional Market Perspective

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is widely recognized for its positive impacts on economic growth and transformation. It is also considered an important channel for the development and accumulation of human capital and the diffusion of new ideas and business skills across national borders. Foreign investment inflows can positively influence employment and may represent an important source of technological advancement in the host country. Global trends show that competition for attracting FDI is especially strong among developing countries, as it represents an important source of foreign capital and can have positive spillover effects on the host economy. This policy paper is organized as following: Section 2 provides a brief theoretical discussion of the main factors that affect investors’ decisions and potential Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) effects on the host-country, followed by a discussion of the importance of FDI for Kosovo and the current legislative framework. Section 3 highlights Kosovo’s FDI profile in general and by sector, as well as its position compared to other SEE countries. Section 4 discusses Kosovo’s potential for attracting investments and its investment climate and scrutinizes the key deterrents for FDI in Kosovo. Section 5 examines the main types of investment incentives and compares Kosovo’s incentive schemes with SEE countries. Section 6 considers the perceptions of EU and EFTA foreign investors operating in Kosovo. The last section offers a set of policy recommendations and solutions that would further enhance Kosovo’s investment climate and its overall performance with regard to attracting FDI. To access the report, please click here.

Policy Report on the Race for Public Sector Employment in Kosovo and Albania: What lies behind it?

This Policy Report investigates public-private wage differentials in Kosovo and Albania using data from Kosovo Household Budget Survey 2011 and Albanian Living Standard Measurement Survey 2012. The Oaxaca-Blinder Decomposition technique is employed to determine whether the wage gap is attributable to differences in employees’ characteristics or to differences in remuneration endowments. The empirical methodology follows a three-stage approach in order to address the double sample selection problem arising from non-random selection of labour market participants and employment into public/private sector. Separate wage regressions are estimated for men and women in each country, including selection-correction terms. In order to complement findings along the entire distribution of wages, decomposition technique of quantile and distribution regression-based estimators is utilized. In general, the results suggest that higher wages in the public sector are explained by better characteristics of public employees in both countries, while there is evidence of significant differences in returns only for the lower wage quantiles. To access the Policy Report, please click here.