The decision has been in effect since February 26, 2009 and the agreement since April 1, 2009. Stabilization and association agreements are part of the EU stabilisation and association process 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. 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 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.”  As of April 2016, the ASA is in force in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Croatia once had an ASA, but it expired when it joined the EU in 2013. The EU supports projects with a regional or cross-border dimension as part of its technical assistance programmes. 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.