EU Country Report 2015: Montenegro improves business environment and strengthens fiscal consolidation, additional work in fight against corruption expected

    Podgorica, Montenegro (10 November 2015) – Following the adoption of the Enlargement Package, which includes the Strategy Paper setting out the way forward and takes stock of the progress made by each candidate and potential candidate, the European Commission issued Country Reports on accession-related developments in candidate countries.

    “Montenegro has made progress in its accession negotiations, including the opening of eight negotiating chapters. This was possible thanks to the progress in the rule of law and strengthening of the legal and institutional framework. However, the track record on corruption and organised crime remains limited in terms of fighting against it,” EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn emphasised in his presentation of the Enlargement Package.

    This year’s Report on Montenegro shows the country’s track record so far and achievements within the key areas for joining the EU, such as political and economic criteria and the progress within the rule of law area.

    At the press conference hosted by the EU Delegation in Podgorica, Ambassador Drobnič noted that Montenegro has made the most notable progress in EU accession of all the countries in the region, adding however that more remains to be done. At the ceremonial handover of the Report at Villa Gorica, Mr Drobnič noted that the Report offers further guidance as well as the EU’s full support to Montenegro on its road towards EU membership.

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Igor Lukšić stressed that the Report offers an objective overview of the state of play and noted he is pleased that Montenegro is now closer than ever to EU membership. He underlined that economic governance is among the most important areas Montenegro will focus on in its further EU accession process.At a press briefing held by the Negotiating Group for media and other stakeholders, Chief Negotiator Ambassador Aleksandar Pejović and the negotiators noted that the report is the most favourable one thus far. They highlighted the Report’s assessment of progress in the areas of political dialogue, rule of law, regional co-operation, civil society collaboration, and achievements in individual EU negotiations chapters.

    Report findings

    Regarding the political criteria, the Report reiterated the importance of new election legislation, stressing the need for its full implementation particularly when it comes to the electronic registration of voters. It has also commended Montenegro’s commitment to cherishing good neighbourly relations, as well as signing of the agreements on delimitation of borders with Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Montenegro also made visible progress in the area of fight against corruption, and the Commission noted it expects further progress in issuing final verdicts and charges of high-level corruption having in mind their currently limited extent.

    As regards economic criteria, the Report stated that Montenegro is partially ready for the functioning of market economy. It outlined the GDP growth, progress in fiscal consolidation and achievements made in improving the business environment, adding that the highway project could potentially jeopardize fiscal sustainability.

    The Report stressed that there has been no systematic trend of attacks against journalists resulting in threats to life or serious injuries. However, threats and attacks have occurred in the past, including high profile incidents targeting investigative journalists, the report noted. The most serious case was the murder of an editor-in-chief in 2004; to-date there is no information on the motive or the people behind the crime.

    When it comes to the recently held protests organised by the Democratic Front, the Report stated that all political actors should be engaged in an active dialogue within the Parliament of Montenegro.

    The country also made progress in boosting cooperation between the Government and civil society, the Report underscored.

    The EU Enlargement Strategy 2015-2016 provides a clear guidance and sets out the framework for supporting the candidate countries within the EU accession process. The current enlargement agenda covers the Western Balkan countries and Turkey, thus ensuring credibility of the enlargement policy and ensuring preparedness of the candidate countries to join the EU.

    The European Commission’s Country Report is composed of several components, addressing particularly political and economic criteria, as well as the progress made within the rule of law area.

    The European Commission’s Country Report: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2015/20151110_report_montenegro.pdf

    The enlargement agenda is available on the web site of the European Commission and you can download it here: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2015/20151110_strategy_paper.pdf

    Source: Government of Montenegro