An Assessment of the new VAT Policy in Kosovo: its potential impact on consumers and businesses

Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) released a Policy Analysis entitled: ‘Assessment of the VAT Changes: Potential Impact on Consumers and Businesses’.  Similar to most of the Balkan countries, Kosovo has been, and still is, undergoing socio-economic and political transformation. Characterized by the lowest GDP per capita in Europe, Kosovo’s main challenge remains the lack of economic development. In addition its challenges are illustrated by a very large informal economy. However, given that Kosovo has no monetary policy, fiscal policy is the only economic instrument used by policymakers to influence Government revenues in order to have an impact in the economy. According to the Policy Analysis these fiscal reforms will not necessarily have a positive impact for Kosovo citizens, on contrary there is a higher risk that they will have a negative impact by increasing the cost of living for citizens.  The report concludes arguing that there ‘…are no clear outputs for the announced fiscal reforms outlined by the Ministry of Finance by any economic analysis or statistics on how such changes would impact the overall economy – low income households and businesses. This gives us the impression that these changes are part of a populist agenda rather than thoughtful changes for the benefit of the population at large’. This is the first time after the independence of the Republic of Kosovo that the Law is being changed completely.To access the policy report, please click here.

Visa Liberalisation and the Way Forward: Suggestions for a Strategic Approach to the Political Dialogue with Brussels

Group for Legal and Political Studies conducted a Policy Analysis entitled ‘Visa Liberalisation and the Way Forward: Suggestions for a Strategic Approach to the Political Dialogue with Brussels’, which examines the particularities Kosovo’s visa liberalisation process and subsequent issues. It also presents recommendations for the government on the way forward and how to effectively implement a strategy that would assist in reaching the goal of visa liberalisation. To access the Analysis, please click here.

Potential Migrant’s Profile: Who are the Kosovars most willing to Migrate?

GLPS has conducted a representative survey of population with 1000 persons, at the end of March 2015, in order to estimate and then examine the perception trends with regard to this phenomenon. Using the data deriving from the survey, GLPS built the ‘potential migrant’s profile’ and empirically analyses the factors that influence the willingness of citizens to migrate in the context of the factors that participate in the said profile.

The Potential Migrant’s Profile is being conducted for the first time in Kosovo and is an indicator of the structure of factors which trigger the willingness to migrate, something that policymakers and the Mustafa Government should carefully consider in their policy response to the migration trend. The data suggests that willingness to migrate remains very high despite migration of a relatively high number of individuals over the last past months, as well as continuous declarations of EU officials that asylum applications of Kosovo citizens will not be accepted. More precisely, 37.2% of individuals surveyed are willing to migrate should they have an opportunity to do so. The Policy Analysis offers a set of tangible, policy-oriented recommendations for the Kosovo Government to mitigate the factors that are causing this trend of migration of citizens toward the EU countries.To access the Policy Analysis, please click here.

‘Who are the Kosovars most willing to migrate to EU countries?’ – A Study on migration of Kosovars

The analysis includes a quantitative assessment based on the data provided by the Kosovo European Perspective Questionnaire (2014) and the characteristics that affect the growth of citizens’ willingness to migrate. Furthermore, the Policy Analysis provides a list of concrete recommendations for the Kosovo Government to mitigate this trend of citizen migration towards EU countries. GLPS has monitored the migration process especially in terms of its impact to the Visa Liberalization Process, which is an important factor not only technically but also in terms of perception that Kosovo creates towards EU Member States. As for the results of the survey conducted in 2014, the percentage of persons that have shown readiness to migrate in one of the EU countries has increased for 26% compared to the year 2012, respectively from 34% to 43%. Migration is considered to be a costly process, especially the illegal migration. Therefore, with the recent migration, Kosovo is exporting wealth and as a result this is an impoverishing process for the country. Among other recommendations provided in the Policy Analysis, Group for Legal and Political Studies recommends to the Government to design an awareness campaign based on an ongoing and substantial strategy which informs the citizens in details about the EU policies for migration and the consequences of illegal migration among other. This policy analysis is a result of a long-term research and work that Group for Legal and Political Studies has done, by analyzing and monitoring the key factors that increased the citizens’ readiness to migrate to EU countries. To access the Policy Analysis, please click here.

European Parliament Elections and Kosovo: Signs of a Long-Term Threat

Last month, the citizens of the European Union went to the polls to vote for the next members of the European Parliament. Given the EU’s overwhelming presence and importance to Kosovo, these elections are an important indicator for Kosovo’s future. The European Parliament has been more supportive of Kosovo than any other body in the EU the past five years. However, the changing membership of the parliament, with rising Euroskepticism and anemic turnout, has undermined the legitimacy of the EU and improved the fortunes of several parties hostile to Kosovo. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls labeled these shifts an “earthquake” under the foundations of the European Union and they must be given context to determine what they mean for Kosovo. This paper seeks to give the context needed for these elections. While European politicians speak of earthquakes and Euroskeptic parties are on the rise, the overwhelming majority in the European Parliament remains pro-European. With soft Euroskeptic parties, such as the Conservatives in the UK, and defecting pro-Kosovo Euroskeptic parties are added to this overwhelming majority minus its non-recognizing members, the European Parliament’s pro-Kosovo stance will not change. It is this group that will determine Kosovo’s future on the important issues that affect Kosovo and must be decided in the European Parliament. This Parliament will determine the College of Commissioners, nominating a new High Representative and Enlargement Commissioner, the officials that manage the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue and the Enlargement Directorate of the Commission respectively. This Parliament must also assent to the final SAA between the EU and Kosovo, as well as to visa liberalization. Whether the European elections will affect how individuals vote on these matters is yet to be determined, but Kosovo should remain confident that, if parties have not been scared  away by the results of the election, these measures should pass with ease, as should resolutions in the parliament in Kosovo’s favor. While more MEPs will speak out against Kosovo in the Parliament, this will hardly be a change from the past five years that have seen leftist and nationalist parties give token resistance. Thus, in the short term, problems for Kosovo with these rising Euroskeptic parties in the Parliament should be minimal and greater attention should be paid to the long-established parties that must consider a new Commission. It is the long-term implications that should worry Kosovo’s government and pro-European population. If the elections showed anything, it showed that the European project is losing legitimacy and alienating its citizens. The EU is facing a grave threat from its inability to prove its democratic credentials to citizens reconsidering whether the EU is worth the effort put into it. Long-term planning in Kosovo must prepare for the contingency that the EU will break up. This paper is not predicting that the EU will break up or even saying its probable it will break up. Euroskeptic parties have risen and fallen before in the EU and some of the parties that gained from these elections have reached these heights before, only to crash due to their inability to meet expectations or their more putrid ideological markers. However, the Euroskeptic threat is widespread and could damage the European project. A responsible government must plan to build a democratic, prosperous Kosovo whether there is a European Union or not.You can download this Policy Analysis by clicking here.

A Policy Assessment of the Implementation and Implications deriving from the Law on International Agreements of the Republic of Kosovo

This report assesses the text and implementation of the Law on International Agreements. The Assembly of Kosovo passed the law on 14 November 2011; it was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Kosovo on 16 December 2011; it came into force on 31 December 2011. The purpose of the law was to “establish the procedure on conclusion, endorsement, ratification, reserves and declarations, amendments and supplementations, withdrawal from the agreement, and implementation of international agreements of the Republic of Kosovo.” This report will assess the efficiencies of these procedures, the problems they might cause and how the procedures compare to other states in the region. It will also discuss how these procedures define—or fail to define—the role of Kosovo’s institutions in international agreements. It will also see how well these procedures have been followed in international agreements.There are limits to studying a law that is less than two years old, some endogenous to studying such a law, but others a result of the writing of this particular law. One endogenous problem is that there will be a limited number of cases to which the particular law applies. The long-term effectiveness and implementation of the law may not be appreciated from studying these particular cases. A second endogenous problem is that such a study magnifies early uncertainties and mistakes that may result from simple confusion and the lack of an effective system. This type of assessment is more effective for considering unforeseen complications of the law and for finding areas where it is being directly contradicted or ignored.This policy analysis can be downloaded by clicking here.