Speech of Minister Hoxha at the opening of the Stabilization and Association Committee

Honoured Veva,
Honoured colleagues of the Unit for Kosovo,
Honoured Secretaries,
Initially let me extend my gratitude to our colleagues from the European Commission for upon today`s reception here in Brussels, and for you engagement in preparation of this meeting.

This is the first meeting of the Stabilization and Association Committee, which takes place after all meetings of the Stabilization and Association sub-Committees have been held and on the eve of the Stabilization and Association Council to be held in November.

The European integration process remains one of the main goals of the foreign policy of the Republic of Kosovo. The purpose of our society, and consequently our duty as a political representative, remains the continuation of democratic consolidation, strengthening the rule of law and respect for the rights and the establishment of a functioning market economy, respectively addressing the basic criteria for EU membership. We consider European values as ours, and our journey is not complete without joining the European family.

I believe that you, at EU institutions, despite the various pressures facing the EU today, will continue to do all you can to keep the European perspective of our country, the whole region, as dynamic, concrete, and achievable. Reform process depends directly to the European perspective credibility.

Given that we are at the beginning of a new government mandate, allow me to emphasize our commitment to all processes related to the European agenda, including the acceleration of Stabilization and Association Agreement implementation, conclusion of visa liberalization process and the facilitation of free travel for Kosovo citizens to the European Union.

Today we gathered here to discuss the SAA implementation progress and the way forward. Today, I here today will highlight only key points of the priority reforms agreed upon through the European Reform Agenda process.

Following the entry into force of the SAA, Kosovo and the EU have launched a priority agenda of 22 concrete reforms in three main pillars, the implementation of which will contribute to the effective implementation of the SAA. This agenda is now known as the European Reform Agenda or shortly ERA. The Government of the Republic of Kosovo within its Program recognizes the relevance of ERA implementation as key priority of the Government.
Thus, allow to briefly outline the progress achieved so far and our plans to fully address ERA priorities. Due to the agenda, I will focus on the first pillar and key priorities within ERA for this pillar.

In the context of the first pillar, good governance and the rule of law, we have finalized the analysis of review of independent institutions and boards. Currently, the Government and Assembly are in the process of drafting an Action Plan to facilitate the rationalization of independent institutions and boards. Concept Documents for the Law on State Administration and the Law on Civil Servants have been finalized, while the drafting of the Concept Document on the Law on Salaries will soon take place.

On 29 September, the Government, based on the ACA opinion, dismissed 10 Directors of Public Enterprises due to them violating the Law on Public Enterprises.
With regards to the justice system, the Concept Document on amending the applicable legislation has been drafted to ensure the mandatory suspension and/or removal of public officials indicted and convicted of corruption. This Concept Document currently is under consultation with key stakeholders, and is expected to be adopted soon by the Government. Also, the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest was adopted this week by the Government. Now this law is in line with the recommendations received from the European Commission and other stakeholders engaged in drafting process.

With regards to the auditing of political parties funding, we have selected the company. The Parliamentary Committee for Public Finance will soon hold a draw procedure for the allocation of auditors for the auditing of the respective entities.

Also, the procedures for drafting the Concept Document on legislation that will govern the financing of political parties, started. We expect that Government to adopt this Concept Document by the end of this year, including the recommendations from latest EU Monitoring Mission.

Amendments to the Law on State Prosecution have been finalized and we expect its adoption by the Government. This law, inter alia, will govern the issue of lowering the criteria for recruiting prosecutors for the Special Prosecution, in line with the requirements received from the Prosecutorial Council, and thus, now even legally is provided the opportunity to increase the number of prosecutors.

When it comes to migration, there are not much of foreign asylum seekers, although Kosovo provides all the conditions for their protection and sheltering. On the other hand, the number of Kosovar asylum seekers to EU countries remains low compared to previous years, same time our institutions have taken numerous measures to ensure that this number mark no increase, such measures are as follows: designing of operational plans to prevent irregular migration, full control at border crossing points, analysing passenger lists to track possible drastic changes in the number of Kosovans traveling to Serbia, which could be an indicator of growing number of Kosovar asylum seekers to EU countries.

As regards e-procurement reform, the Government's decision on e-procurement is being fully implemented. The electronic platform has been completed, and all contracting authorities are required to publish the procurement activities on the electronic platform.

As regards the second pillar that of Competitiveness and Investment Climate, and the third pillar Education and Employment, we have also marked certain progress that you will be updated upon this meeting.

Honoured colleagues,
We are fully aware that political developments during 2017 have not allowed the necessary political attention to the implementation of key priorities within the European integration process.

The purpose of my speech today was to make it clear that the Government, within the onset of its mandate, has managed to fulfil some of the ERA's priorities, within its first couple of weeks. Such dynamic shall continue in 2018. Despite the lost time, I think it's a good time to reflect on the achievements but also to refocus the agenda for the coming year.

Now, in order to be more efficient in today’s agenda, I would like to hereby thank you for your attention and wish you a successful meeting.

Thank you.

Minister Bekim Çollaku
Bekim Çollaku