The European Union started a feasibility study of Kosovo’s bid to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the 27-nation bloc.
“The study will make an inventory of where Kosovo stands overall in terms of political, economic and legal approximation, and will assess what Kosovo will need to do further to be in a position to negotiate and implement the agreement,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told reporters today after meeting Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and other officials in the capital Pristina.
The agreement is a framework for EU talks with the Balkan region’s nations to encourage their transition to market economies, promote regional cooperation and eventually become a member of the largest trading bloc in the world, according to the EU’s website. “This is the path followed by all of your neighbors and marks the beginning of a new stage in the EU’s relationship with Kosovo,” Fule said.
Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia four years ago, is counting on EU funds to rebuild its infrastructure that was partially destroyed during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing that drove Serbian forces out of the province in 1999. Serbia, the largest ex-Yugoslav republic, won EU candidate status earlier this month, while Croatia is set to join the bloc next year. Slovenia is the only EU member, after joining in 2004.
“The start of the feasibility study is a reconfirmation of the secure road of Kosovo’s state integration into the Europe,” Prime Minister Thaci said. Kosovo will soon become a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and will also have access to funds of the European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the EU, he said.