Kosovo

During the couple of past years, the topic of civil society development has increasingly become part of the Kosovo Government’s effort to improve the legal framework also following the long term pressure through advocacy from the civil society side. The law of freedom of association in NGOs, the Regulation on public funding for NGOs, the Regulation on minimum standards for public consultation, the second consecutive Strategy on cooperation with CS have all marked a cornerstone of enabling environment for civil society development. Understandably, public institutions remain to create the necessary mechanism for proper implementation of these policies as well as increasing capacities of civil servants.

Whereas a lot more improvement remains to be done regarding the AML/CFT legal framework, which without any sectorial assessment or prior analysis considers the civil society sector as vulnerable of terrorism financing. The exercise of the freedom of expression remains within the international standards, yet civil society organizations should increase their efforts to further improve it as well as to notice and combat attempts that would shrink it.

The Department for NGOs should increase its capacities for proper implementation of its mandate, in particular, its staff should be trained on international principles of freedom of association and new provisions introduced by the recently adopted law on NGOs.

Recommendation 2

Ministry of Finance and Tax Administration of Kosovo should address the specificities of CSOs in the primary legislation as well as reporting forms, while also it should be harmonized with the NGO Law so to provide with specific benefits for CSOs. Capacities of civil servants for the implementation to effectively run the administrative procedures regarding tax exemption for CSOs should be increased, while businesses should be notified for such procedures.

Recommendation 3

Ministry of Finance and Tax Administration of Kosovo should address the specificities of CSOs in the primary legislation as well as reporting forms, while also it should be harmonized with the NGO Law so to provide with specific benefits for CSOs. Capacities of civil servants for the implementation to effectively run the administrative procedures regarding tax exemption for CSOs should be increased, while businesses should be notified for such procedures.

Recommendation 4

Ministry of Finance together with the other budgetary organizations both on the central and local level should work on increasing transparency of public funds distributed to NGOs, with a focus on monitoring and evaluation. The system of data maintenance in terms of beneficiaries and amounts distributed to NGOs should be improved also capacities of public officials to fully implement requirements derived from the Regulation on public funds should be increased further.

Recommendation 5

The Office for Good Governance in the Office of Prime Minister (OGG OPM) should start allocating the budget as promised altogether with increasing its human capacities for proper implementation of the Strategy for cooperation with civil society. Additionally, the evaluation methodology of the Strategy should be updated in accordance with civil society demands.

Recommendation 6

Central level institutions should ensure that public consultation processes are organized entirely in accordance to the standards specified by the Regulation on public consultation. Percentage of draft policies and laws also presence of the entire elements that comprise an effective public consultation should be increased. Besides online platform for public consultation other means of consultation should be utilized as to allow a wider access from CSOs and general public. Additionally, Ministry of Local Government Administration (MLGA) and municipalities should work on fully operationalizing implementation of minimum standards for public consultation in local level, while also undertaking a public information campaign promoting available opportunities for citizens and CSOs.

KCSF work in collecting and analyzing the data for this report was based on a team effort, which included the major part of its staff and was built based on the outcome of its projects and initiatives. Therefore, contribution of every member of KCSF team is highly acknowledged.

In addition, KCSF would like to express its gratitude to all those CSOs, representatives of public institutions and donors, as well as to other sectors who have accepted to provide their opinions and thoughts through participation in surveys and responding to interviews and requests to public information/documents. The information collected from the relevant actors to civil society work in Kosovo was crucial to cover the entire scope of this matrix.

Last, KCSF acknowledges the support provided by BCSDN Executive Office and ECNL to the development and implementation of this monitoring exercise. Their support was very helpful to put the entire information within a clearly defined format, which is comparable regionally while providing sufficient space for country specific information. 

In Kosovo, the year 2018 was characterized by political instability. The Government headed by the Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj lacked majority in the Parliament therefore a vast number of its meetings failed due to the lack of the quorum. As a result, during the period April – June, around 60 agenda items failed to be considered and got postponed to next Assembly meetings. The Government’s Agenda during the year was entirely focused on the dialogue with Serbia for the normalization of the relation, and the border demarcation with Montenegro; whereas areas directly related to the welfare of citizens like rule of law, economic development, fight against corruption and organized crime, received minimal consideration. In addition, the public discourse was dominated by the Kosovo’s President idea, Hashim Thaqi over border correction between Serbia and Kosovo; an idea which has sparked strong condemnation by the opposition political parties and the general public in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s GDP in 2018 was EUR 6.7 billion the second lowest amongst the Western Balkan countries after Montenegro. Whereas GDP per capita is EUR 3.64 (The World Bank, 2018), which makes Kosovo resident’s average income ten times lower than the European Union’s. The average monthly wage is €360, and growth is dependent on remittances from the diaspora, with around 80% of foreign direct investment coming from Kosovans overseas. Unemployment is around 30% and youth unemployment is over 50%. Kosovo has the lowest average age in Europe, but the economy generates only half the number of jobs annually needed for the young people entering the workforce. (MacDowall, 2020)

The Stabilization and Association Agreement between the Kosovo and European Union is in force since 2016, whereas the European Reform Agenda has been launched in November 2016. Yet, the Government was slow to implement activities that would accelerate the European Integration process. On the other hand, the ratification of border demarcation agreement with Montenegro sets a positive step for the visa liberalization process. In this regard, the European Commission confirmed that Kosovo has fulfilled all the criteria required for visa liberalization set by the European Council. Despite the fact that civil society found itself operating under unfavorable political circumstances that mostly impacted the advocacy process due to the Parliament’s lack of quorum, still a few positive developments were noted. The Financial Intelligence Unit upon the civil society’s long request started the sector risk assessment regarding terrorism financing. Also, for the first time the Government published its annual report on the public consultation process. Despite the drawbacks that the entire public consultation process entails again the report represents a positive step towards improving further the participatory policy making process.

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