Enlargement report for Montenegro
Delivered in Plenary - 28 March 2012
Montenegro as a candidate country remains a relatively straightforward country in terms of monitoring its progress towards EU accession, and, in this case, small is beautiful. Montenegro has worked hard to address the criteria and benchmarks set by you as Commissioner in seven key priority areas, namely improving the work of its parliament and the electoral framework, professionalism within the administration of Montenegro, independence of the judiciary, fighting corruption, combating organised crime, ensuring media freedom and cooperation within civil society. Montenegro – to its credit – was admitted to the World Trade Organisation in December last year. WTO accession will inevitably help Montenegro build a competitive and dynamic modern economy.
This signals Montenegro’s integration into the world economy as well. The major political Copenhagen criteria issues, which include inter-ethnic relations, gender, religious, ethnic and disability discrimination, the repatriation of IDPs, independence and transparency of the judiciary, and freedom of the media, are very fully covered in my resolution. As a country with outstanding natural beauty, tourism plays a major role in Montenegro’s economy as well. Protecting the environment from the building of hydroelectric dams and energy policy transparency are therefore natural priorities for the Montenegrin Government.
My current resolution on Montenegro’s progress also focuses on the economy. By freeing up the country from too much red tape and bureaucracy, this will encourage business and promote growth through foreign direct investment.
Montenegro is also well known as a champion of better regional cooperation with its immediate neighbours, and its achievements in this area include resolving an outstanding small border dispute with Croatia and leading the fight against organised crime in a region which sadly has too much of it. Last year it successfully concluded bilateral extradition treaties with Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia. In short, Montenegro is a good news story and it is hoped that the negotiations will now start in June of 2012 for EU accession.