The Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) Subcommittees on Innovation, Information Society and Social Policy will have their third meeting later this week on Feb. 8 in Brussels. This will be their first meeting in 2019.
The sub-committees are mechanisms of the technical dialogue, as part of the Process of Stabilization and Association (SAA) for Kosovo. During these meetings, the European Commission and the Kosovo government discuss technical and policy issues and progress in making the necessary reforms related to Kosovo’s EU Accession process.
Prior to this upcoming Policy Dialogue meeting between the Kosovo Government and European Union (EU) representatives, the Ministry of European Integration (MEI) Department for Stabilisation and Association organized a public consultation with civil society organisations (CSOs) on Feb. 5 in Pristina, attended by the Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN), among others.
This is the second round of public consultations that KWN attended this year, organized this time with a focus on Innovation, Information Society and Social Policy. Jeton Karaqica, Director of the Department of Economic Criteria and Internal Market in the Ministry of European Integration, opened the discussion on these sectors by thanking CSO representatives for their presence. The importance of these consultations relies on gathering information and reflecting it in the country Progress Report, as well as on agreeing on further objectives for the upcoming year, he said.
With regards to Kosovo’s progress on Social Policy and Employment, KWN recommended that a gender balance should be sought when hiring women and men at all levels, according to the Law on Gender Equality. MEI said that there is an increase in funds that will support equal employment of citizens.
The issue of inadequate childcare services was followed by a discussion among all CSO representatives present. They agreed that investing in childcare can and does indeed impact the percentage of employed women, as mentioned in KWN’s Kosovo Gender Analysis.
Regarding education, KWN re-emphasized the need for closer monitoring of the gender review of education curricula towards transforming existing gender norms through education, as well as follow-up actions to train teachers based on reforms. MEI confirmed that curricula still are not applied fully and that confusion remains among teachers regarding use of the new textbooks.
KWN also mentioned the need to update the curricula and adapt school books so that they comply with the needs of children with disabilities; the state also needs to set aside sufficient funds for personal assistants, without which these children’s access to education is limited. MEI officials said that this issue, among others, will definitely be a priority to be included in the second European Reform Agenda’s (ERA 2) objectives.
ERA is an agreement reached in May 2016 between the European Commission and the Kosovo government to maximize the economic and political benefits of the SAA. For this purpose, ERA sets short-term priorities for the Kosovo government in the areas of good governance and the rule of law, competitiveness and investment climate and education and employment. The priority actions within the ERA are identified and updated annually by the Kosovo government and the European Commission in close consultation with international financial institutions (IFIs), the business sector, civil society and social partners.
According to MEI officials, priorities for ERA 2 will soon be made public, and they will include the fulfilment of objectives that were not accomplished in the first ERA. Moreover, MEI officials stated that this year’s objectives will be more specific and realistic, so that they may be implemented within the expected timeframe.
The fulfilment of these priority actions will assist Kosovo in making progress towards implementing the SAA and thus advancing towards joining the European Union.