Like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo is a potential candidate for EU membership. In February 2008, it unilaterally proclaimed its independence. With the exception of five Member States (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain), all Member States have recognised Kosovo`s independence. In the region, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina did not recognize Kosovo. A roadmap for visa liberalisation was published in June 2012. In July 2018, the Commission confirmed that Kosovo met the final test. The European Parliament has followed this example and has decided to open inter-institutional negotiations which are still ongoing. Following a pioneering agreement on the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina in April 2013 (the “Brussels Agreement”), the European Council decided to start negotiations on the ASA with Kosovo in June 2013. The ASA came into force on April 1, 2016.
Kosovo`s future integration with the EU – like Serbia`s – remains closely linked to the eu-backed high-level dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which should lead to a legally binding comprehensive agreement on the normalization of their relations. Serbia applied for EU membership in December 2009 and was granted candidate status in March 2012, following an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on Kosovo`s regional representation. Membership negotiations were officially launched on 21 January 2014. The first two chapters, including the normalization of relations with Kosovo, were opened in December 2015. The main chapters 23 and 24 on the rule of law were opened on 18 July 2016. A total of 18 chapters were opened at the end of 2019. In February 2018, the Commission published a new strategy for the Western Balkans, which indicates that Serbia (and Montenegro) could join the EU by 2025, while acknowledging that this prospect is “extremely ambitious”. Serbia`s future integration into the EU – like Kosovo`s – remains closely linked to the EU-backed high-level dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, which should lead to a legally binding comprehensive agreement on the normalization of their relations.
Last year, a first border management cooperation agreement was concluded with Albania and similar agreements were signed with Northern Macedonia (July 2018) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (January 2019). Since the ASA came into force with Kosovo in April 2016, asAs have now been in force with all candidate countries in the Western Balkans and potential candidate countries. In the case of Kosovo, the ASA is an EU agreement that Member States are not required to ratify (five Member States do not recognise Kosovo as an independent state). The commercial and commercial aspects of the ASA are included in the interim agreements. They usually come into force quickly after they are signed, as trade falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the EU. In addition, the agreements contain competition provisions, a high level of protection of intellectual property rights and increased cooperation in customs matters.