Brussels, 11 March 2014Trade, industry and SME policy, customs and taxation were the main topics discussed at the Stabilisation and Association Process Dialogue (SAPD) meeting yesterday, in Brussels. The meeting took stock of the main developments in these areas, some of which will also feature prominently in the Commission’s new approach to economic governance in the enlargement region that was officially launched in London on 24 February.

The meeting took place during a period when the SAA negotiations are moving swiftly ahead. Among the issues raised during the meeting, the Kosovo-EU trade balance and the exchange of statistical trade data, both crucial inputs in the SAA negotiations, were discussed. In addition, Kosovo presented the substance and impact of the Free Trade Agreement with Turkey, concluded last year.

In the area of Customs and Taxation, the administrative capacities and performance of both authorities were discussed. Important progress in solving the backlog of cases within the Independent Review Board was noted.

As regards the Industry sector and small and medium enterprises (SME) development, Kosovo presented in particular the activities undertaken in the area of access to finance and the removal of administrative barriers to business. In addition, the findings of the 2013 SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey, with particular attention on the progress in the implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe, were presented and discussed.

The implementation of the conclusions and follow-up actions from the meeting will be of key importance in assessing Kosovo’s progress within the EU Stabilisation and Association Process, where the EU-Kosovo trade relations are one of the key priorities.

The SAP Dialogue meetings, the conclusions of which feed into the next Progress Report, are organised together with the Ministry for European Integration.

The SAP Dialogue is a framework under which the European Commission and the Kosovo administration regularly discuss technical and policy issues in relation to the European agenda.  The SAP Dialogue monitors and accompanies Kosovo’s delivery on reforms, and identifies how the EU can assist in this process. Sectoral and plenary SAP Dialogue meetings are co-chaired by the European Commission and the government. Each meeting results in jointly agreed follow-up actions to be taken by the Kosovo authorities.

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