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Sida's work in Kosovo

Around a fifth of Kosovo's population lives in poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in Europe. Sida's reform cooperation for human rights, democratisation and sustainable development aims, among other things, to create the conditions for the young country to move closer to the EU.

Sida’s support in Kosovo

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Progress has been made

Some political stability

A majority in Parliament for the Prime Minister and the ruling party contributes to some political stability in the country. Voter turnout was high in the last elections, which were also considered relatively free, both nationally and locally.1

Moving closer to the EU

Despite major challenges posed by the failure of several countries to recognise Kosovo as an independent nation, there is a political and civic commitment to implementing pro-EU reforms.

Reduced corruption

Although corruption in Kosovo is widespread, it is declining and the country is ranked higher in the world’s corruption rankings.2

Challenges remain

Environment a low priority

Environmental organisations in Kosovo are weak and environmental issues generally continue to be a low priority for politicians and the public alike, but increased engagement is visible among young people.3

Continued tension between Kosovo and Serbia

A serious obstacle to the country’s development is the continuing tension with neighbouring Serbia, which does not recognise Kosovo as an independent nation.

Widespread violence against women

Gender-based violence and human rights violations remain widespread. The pandemic has further aggravated the situation.4

Reform cooperation in Kosovo

Kosovo is the youngest country in Europe and is about the size of the swedish county of Skåne. Previously, it was part of neighbouring Serbia. Relations between the two countries continue to be fraught. Society is characterised by poverty and patriarchal structures. Unemployment is high and discrimination and violence against women is widespread.

Economic development

There is strong public support for joining the EU and in 2021 Kosovo took further steps towards EU membership. Extensive reforms are to be implemented according to the action plan adopted by the government and endorsed by the EU, but the road to the EU is still long, partly because several countries, including five EU countries, have not yet recognised Kosovo as an independent nation.

Better working conditions

Unemployment in Kosovo is high and incomes have fallen due to the pandemic.5 Women face discrimination and are largely excluded from the labour market. Together with the ILO and other local organisations, Sida is working to improve people’s working conditions and make jobs safer.

UNOPS’ website

Small and medium-sized enterprises are strengthened

Kosovo recovered relatively quickly from the negative effects of the pandemic.6 This was due in part to large financial support efforts by the government to businesses and households, as well as interventions such as child and maternity allowances for the most vulnerable. Sida works with the organisations Swisscontact and Connecting Natural Values with People, which support small and medium-sized enterprises that primarily employ women and young people in sectors such as textiles, wood and health food.

Democracy and human rights

Kosovo is politically unstable and the country has experienced several governmental crises in a short period of time. In addition, although progress has been made here, the country is grappling with major corruption problems but has climbed from 104th to 87th place in the list of countries with high levels of corruption.7

Strengthening civil society

Civil society organisations and their visibility improved slightly in 2021. There is a particular need to raise the profile of the human rights situation, especially among minorities such as Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. Sida cooperates with, among others, the Community Development Fund, which supports 14 civil society organisations working in the field of human rights, but also in education and environmental rights.

Community development Fund’s website

One step closer to the EU

Although both the government and the opposition want Kosovo to join the EU, many people feel that the necessary reforms are not being implemented fast enough. Sida supports the GAP think tank, which promotes good governance, conducts research and offers policy recommendations with the aim of bringing Kosovo closer to the EU. Sida also contributes to improving the conditions for Kosovo to move closer to the EU through cooperation between authorities, for effective and transparent institutions. For example, cooperation between the Swedish and Kosovar environmental protection agencies is improving the country’s compliance with EU criteria in the field of the environment.

GAP’s website

Environment and climate

Kosovo has major environmental problems. Almost all electricity is produced in coal-fired power plants and forests are illegally logged. Waste and sewage management is poor. As a non-UN member, Kosovo is not covered by international initiatives to reduce climate change and environmental problems.

Enhancing biodiversity protection

Kosovo’s environmental legislation is inadequate. In cooperation with the country’s Ministry of Environment, Sida is helping to train parties at state and municipal level in environmental issues. The aim is to have environmental legislation in line with EU directives. The support also helps to increase the protection of biodiversity and improve the management of natural areas.

For sustainable forestry

In Kosovo, illegal logging is a major environmental problem. Through the organisation Connecting Natural Values with People (CNVP), Sida supports local forestry associations that organise rural people for sustainable and decentralised forest management.

CNVP’s website

Updated: October 4, 2022