Montenegro opens last negotiation Chapter with EU

Montenegro opens last negotiation Chapter with EU

The fifth meeting of the Accession Conference with Montenegro at Deputy level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on the last screened chapter, Chapter 8 – Competition policy, announced EU.

The European Union delegation was led by Ms Irena Andrassy, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, on behalf of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission was represented by Mr Christian Danielsson, Director General DG NEAR, European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The Montenegrin delegation was led by Ambassador Bojan Šarkić, Head of the Montenegrin Mission to the European Union.

“With today’s Conference, all 33 screened chapters out of a total of 35 negotiating chapters will have been opened for negotiations, 3 of which have already been provisionally closed. Further Accession Conferences will be planned, as appropriate, in order to take the process forward in the second half of 2020. The accession negotiations were launched in June 2012,” said EU.

The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Duško Marković, announced on the EU decision to open the last negotiating chapter, that this is an important day and a turning point for the process of European integration of Montenegro!

“The opening of the last chapter – 8, is a recognition of our performance in the overall reforms, especially in chapters 23 and 24. With new enthusiasm in partnership with the EU, we continue to work hard on the European agenda,” said Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković.

Regarding the opening of negotiations on Chapter 8 – Competition policy, the Union has closely examined Montenegro’s present state of preparations. On the understanding that Montenegro has to continue to make progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis in this chapter, the EU noted that there are benchmarks that need to be met for the provisional closure of this chapter.

In addition, the EU underlined that it would devote particular attention to monitoring all specific issues mentioned in its common position. Monitoring of progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis will continue throughout the negotiations. The Conference will have to return to this chapter at an appropriate moment.

The benchmarks for the chapter opened are as follows:

– Montenegro has completed legislative alignment with the EU acquis covered by the chapter Competition Policy.

– Montenegro has built up an adequate administrative and judicial capacity in the area of antitrust, mergers and State aid control.

– Montenegro has demonstrated a satisfactory enforcement record in the area of antitrust, mergers and State aid control, including a track record of effective and efficient administrative and judicial follow-up of detected irregularities, including through the imposition of deterrent sanctions, where appropriate.

– In the following cases, the Agency for the Protection of Competition, as national State aid authority, has assessed the presence and compatibility of State aid with the State aid provisions of the SAA, and has ordered its recovery, where such aid has been identified as incompatible:

– with regard to Montenegro Airlines, whether all State aid granted since 2012 to the company is compatible with the State aid provisions of the SAA. This needs to include the provisions of the Law on investment in consolidation and development of Montenegro Airlines adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro in December 2019;

– whether Uniprom KAP received incompatible aid;

– with regard to the Bar-Boljare highway, whether there was incompatible aid in the financing of the construction of the highway and its operation./ibna