The agreement with Kosovo was the first to be signed after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, which gave the EU legal personality.   As a result, an EU representative in Kosovo said: “Unlike the SAA with other countries in the region, this will be exclusively the EU agreement. The EU will co-sign it as a legal entity.  The agreement did not have to be ratified individually by each member state, some of which did not recognise Kosovo`s independence.  The representative continued: “Since Kosovo is not recognised by the five member states, we had to adopt a directive stipulating that the signing of the agreement does not mean that the EU or any of the countries recognise Kosovo as a state.”  Stabilisation and Association Agreements are part of the EU`s Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). SAP is currently focusing on the western Balkan countries. Specific Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) have been implemented with various Balkan countries, which explicitly contain provisions for the future accession of the country concerned to the EU. The SAAs are in principle similar to the Europe Agreements signed in the 1990s with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Association Agreement with Turkey. The EU`s relations with the Western Balkans moved from external relations to enlargement in 2005. Since 2015, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have been officially recognised as candidate countries. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are not recognised as candidate countries, but as potential candidates.  In discussions with countries that have expressed a desire to join the European Union, the EU usually concludes 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 products, agricultural products, etc.) as well as financial or technical assistance. The Saa has been in force in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia since April 2016.
Croatia had an ASA, but it expired when it joined the EU in 2013. SaAs are largely based on the EU acquis communautaire and its promulgation in the legislation of cooperating countries.