It is still uncertain whether Montenegro will open Chapter 8 – Competition policy, by the end of this year. Owing to the current circumstances in the EU, and especially after the opening of membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania had been delayed, the question is: What will happen with the enlargement process?
Montenegro has made considerable progress in the accession process and is seen as the next EU member. However, there’s still a lot to be done, CdM write.
As far as Chapter 8 is concerned, Montenegro has already done what it was asked to do. It is the EU members’ turn now.
“Considering the current situation in the EU, it would not be very appropriate to predict when the negotiations in Chapter 8 will start”, says Biljana Jakić, director-general of the Directorate for Internal Market and Competition in the Ministry of Economy and a negotiator in chapter 8.
She says it is important that Montenegrin institutions have been fulfilling defined tasks responsibly and devotedly and that all initial criteria for opening a new chapter have been established.
“European Commission has set five criteria for opening this chapter. Those criteria refer to the changes in the legislation in the area of state aid; formation of an operationally independent body which will have all the necessary competences and resources required for the full application of state aid rules; harmonization of fiscal assistance schemes- Law on Corporate Income Tax, Law on Personal Income Tax, Law on Free Zones, programs of enhancement and promotion of business zones; list of all state aid measures and establishment of the action plan for the harmonization with other assistance schemes or other equivalent measures seen as incompatible with the duties stipulated in the Stabilization and Association Agreement. The last criterion referred to the adoption of the plan on restructuring Aluminum Plant Podgorica. It is not relevant anymore since Aluminum Plant has gone bankrupt”, says Ms Jakić.
She adds that, in relation to the set criteria, a whole set of legislative and institutional reforms have been implemented.
“In February 2018, new Law on State Aid Control was adopted and it included all the required elements for efficient state aid control. Through amendments to the Law on the Protection of Competition, adopted at the beginning of 2018, competences of the Agency for Protection of Competition have been extended to the area of state aid control. In addition, in the area of financial assistance schemes, the legislative framework has been harmonized with the EU legislation”, Jakić points out.
All the activities Montenegro has undertaken in this chapter indicate its readiness and commitment to meeting the requirements of the European agenda.
“Now the ball is in the EU court. We expect those results to be recognized and validated with the opening of this last chapter in the negotiation process”, Jakić adds./ibna