Prishtina, 21 February 2014 – Representatives of the Kosovo authorities and the European Union met in Pristina to discuss the developments over the past year in the areas of electronic communications, information society and audiovisual policy, labour and social welfare, education, science and innovation as well as protection and promotion of cultural heritage. The discussion is held in the framework of the regular Stabilisation and Association Process Dialogue.
With regard to audiovisual policy, the European Union expressed its concerns that Kosovo is very late in preparation for digital switch over, thus risking meeting the internationally agreed deadline of June 2015 for switchover in all European countries. The European Union encouraged Kosovo to adopt the necessary legislation for the process to go ahead. Another important issue was the ongoing process of the appointments to the Independent Media Council, which has been without a working governing body for most of the past 3 years. The European Union and Kosovo agreed that it is of utmost importance that the Assembly ensures that the Independent Media Council is appointed as soon as possible through an open and transparent process which guarantees that competent people be appointed independent from political affiliation. This appointment will be necessary for the IMC to carry out election monitoring should Kosovo be entering a general election process. The Kosovo Assembly was encouraged to find ways for a sustainable funding of the public broadcaster, which would ensure RTK’s independence, as it is foreseen in the law on RTK. Discussion on telecommunication evolved around market developments and a special focus was put on the need for Kosovo to ensure that the Telecom regulator is a financially independent organisation and fully equipped to carry out its important tasks.
On the movement of workers, it was underlined that it is important to have a proper coordination and exchange of data on payments of social security benefits between administrations, to which a key pre-condition are solid administration capacities. Kosovo should continue with the signing and implementation of bilateral international agreements on social security with the EU Member States. On employment, Kosovo gave an update on the legislative calendar. Parties also agreed that there is a need to create a synergy between various state agencies, laws and strategies, to ensure that there is an increase of employment opportunities and an increased support by Kosovo for employment promotion measures. In the course of the discussion, Kosovo informed the EU on progress and obstacles in enforcing the labour law including data on inspections carried out by the Labour Inspectorate. A major obstacle in the ground remains the very limited capacity and number of labour inspectors. This affects also the situation for health and safety at work.
With regard to social services the European Union stressed the need for Kosovo to support the advancement of the process for the decentralisation of the social services. To assure effective implementation of social service decentralisation the EU stressed the importance of amendment to the Local Government Finance Law in order to clarify allocation of a municipal budget for social service provision. The EU understood that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, with support of MLGA had submitted such an amendment to Government of Kosovo for its consideration.
On the protection and promotion of the cultural heritage it is important to continue to implement the legislation related to the protection of the religious and cultural heritage and that the Implementation and Monitoring Council is functioning well. Awareness raising campaigns should be organised at local level to building up the commitment and understanding of the importance of cultural heritage.
The work done so far has been noted, however the EU stressed the importance for Kosovo to prioritise quality assurance in education from preschool to university education. Access to quality education for children with disabilities and minority communities needs to be strengthened. Kosovo should advance means and mechanisms, legislative and other, to considerably improve quality assurance in higher education and scientific research. Kosovo should also assure adherence to objective and proper implementation of rules governing staff engagement and career development in the higher education sector.