Podgorica, December 17, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Adnan Prekic
The Council of the European union welcomes the progress made in the accession negotiations with Montenegro in the past year, including completion of the extensive screening phase and the beginning of the implementation of the new approach, following the opening of negotiations on the chapters Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and Justice, Freedom and Security. Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations said that accession negotiations overall pace depends on the progress on the rule of law.
The Council notes with satisfaction Montenegro’s work on a number of issues identified in the progress report and, in particular, the recent adoption of several important measures in the area of prevention of corruption. Montenegro has also continued to implement its obligations under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, and to play an active role in the region. The Council welcomes Montenegro’s continued involvement in further developing regional cooperation, as well as its full alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations said that new laws adopted last week by the Parliament are expected to contribute to the prevention of corruption in Montenegro.
“However – and I would like to be very clear on this – only their effective implementation will help to achieve concrete results. It is of utmost importance that Montenegro establishes a credible track record of implementation. Therefore, the implementing bodies need to be equipped rapidly with trained staff, equipment, and budget. To summarise, 2015 should be the year where we see tangible results in the area of rule of law as well as a strong focus on addressing the remaining opening benchmarks. The last few weeks have shown clearly that the pace of accession negotiations lies with Montenegro. I am convinced that if Montenegro maintains the pace, we will see tangible results soon, for the benefit of Montenegrin citizens“, Hahn said.
In particular, progress in the area of judiciary and fundamental rights has been uneven. Montenegro needs to further intensify its efforts with regard to legislative reforms and their effective implementation: the interim benchmarks for chapters 23 and 24 should continue to provide clear guidance for future reforms. Particular attention should be given to making up for delays which have occurred, and to further developing a solid track record in the area of rule of law, including with respect to the fight against corruption, notably at high level.
Montenegro should continue to pursue economic reforms, notably tackling high unemployment and improving the business environment, while at the same time implementing fiscal consolidation measures.