Stabilization and association agreements are part of the EU Stabilisation and Association Process (PSA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). At present, the countries of the Western Balkans are at the heart of the PSA. Specific Stabilization and Association Agreements (ASAs) have been implemented with various Balkan countries, which contain explicit provisions for the country`s future accession to the EU. The SAAs resemble in principle the European agreements signed in the 1990s with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the association agreement with Turkey. The agreement with Kosovo was the first to be signed after the Lisbon Treaty came into force, which brought down the EU`s legal personality.   An EU representative in Kosovo stated that “unlike the ASA with other countries in the region, this agreement will be exclusively the EU agreement. The EU will sign them as a legal entity.  The agreement did not have to be ratified individually by each Member State, some of which did not recognize Kosovo`s independence.  The representative added: “Since Kosovo is not recognised by the five Member States, we had to adopt a directive stating that the signing of the agreement will not mean that the EU or any of the countries will recognise Kosovo as a state.”  The decision has been in effect since February 26, 2009 and the agreement since April 1, 2009. The Stabilization and Association Agreement (ASA) is part of the third generation of association agreements with the European Union, which establish close and lasting relations with the European Union with the countries involved in the stabilisation and association process.
In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of this agreement, Northern Macedonia can benefit from EU financial assistance in the form of grants and loans, including loans from the European Investment Bank. On 7 November, the EU and Serbia signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (ASA). This agreement, which defines the respective rights and obligations of the signatories, provides a framework for the implementation of the reforms that will bring this potential candidate country closer to the EU. Successive amendments to the agreement were introduced in the original document. This consolidated version is only of documentary value. The ASAs rely mainly on the EU`s EU acquis and are based on their enactment in the legislation of the cooperating countries. The political harmonisation expected by the ASA is lower than for EU Member States; Some areas of action of the Community acquis may not fall under a specific ASA. The EU and Northern Macedonia should establish close cooperation in a wide range of areas of action to support the country`s development and growth potential. In discussions with countries that have expressed a desire to join the European Union, the EU generally enters into association agreements in exchange for commitments on political, economic, trade or human rights reforms in that country.
In return, the country may be offered duty-free access to some or all EU markets (industrial goods, agricultural products, etc.) as well as financial or technical assistance.