The European Union is readying to strengthen its relations with Kosovo by signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) that could possibly open the way for the small Balkan country towards the membership in the block. The EU is expected to have the decision about the timing of the accord very soon although European Commission foreign affairs spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, refused to comment on a more precise date. She commented without elaborating that “the Council is now finalizing the adoption procedures with a view to the signing of this agreement”. Ms Kocijancic also added that the Commission had recommended that the European Council, which groups the Member-State governments, should take up the SAA.
Kosovo, which is a disputed territory and partially recognized state, declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 as the Republic of Kosovo after years of tensions. Serbia, however, did not recognize the new state although 23 out of 28 EU members have done so. As part of its struggle to promote stability in the region, the EU helped broker normalization between Kosovo and Serbia two years ago. The brokerage further opened the way to membership talks with Belgrade as well as the SAA agreement. The negotiations about the deal specifically started in mid-2014. The adoption of the SAA would require adopting reforms regarding human rights and the judicial system in order to harmonize them with the EU legislation.
Kosovo is currently not among EU membership candidates that include Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Its relationship with the EU has been managed since 2008 by the Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which is the largest civilian mission ever deployed under the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy. Despite the progress, the Commission has made it clear that no new member will be admitted to the block in its current term to 2020.