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European partnership with Montenegro

As an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process, the European Partnership aims to provide additional, adapted support to the Montenegrin authorities with a view to achieving the European perspective of their country. Its objective is to identify the priority areas in which there is a need for reforms and efforts, in particular inviting Montenegro to align with Community legislation. It also forms a reference framework for the financial assistance provided by the Community Funds.

ACT

Council Decision 2007/49/EC of 22 January 2007 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the European Partnership with Montenegro.

SUMMARY

The European Partnership with Montenegro is the principal instrument for assisting the Montenegrin authorities in achieving the country's European perspective. This perspective was confirmed during the Zagreb Summit in 2000 and endorsed at the 2003 Thessaloniki Summit.

The European Partnership with Montenegro is an instrument of the Stabilisation and Association Process introduced under the Thessaloniki agenda (2003) for the Western Balkan countries. The Thessaloniki agenda added this new instrument to the process to give further support to the European perspective of these countries. The legal basis for the European Partnerships is Regulation (EC) No 533/2004.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the European Partnership is to record in a general reference framework:

  • the priority areas for action for which reforms must be undertaken and efforts made. These are identified according to the needs of the country and include the adoption and/or implementation of appropriate legislation;
  • guidance for the financial assistance with a view to the implementation of these priority action areas;
  • the principles and conditions governing the achievement of the partnership.

The Council of the European Union adopts the European Partnership and subsequent amendments to it by qualified majority on the basis of a Commission proposal.

The current partnership was adopted following the independence of Montenegro in June 2006. It updates the priorities identified in the European Partnership with Serbia and Montenegro, including Kosovo (as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244), adopted in 2006. In this respect, European Partnerships are flexible instruments designed to develop according to the progress made by the partner countries and the efforts they still have to make in other fields resulting from the Commission assessments.

Montenegro has to adopt an action plan with a view to achieving the objectives identified in the European Partnership, in which it presents the detailed arrangements and a timetable for the implementation of the priorities of the partnership.

The implementation of the partnership is monitored under the Stabilisation and Association Process and its mechanisms and notably by the annual progress reports presented by the Commission.

PRIORITIES

The European Partnership sets priorities which consist of realistic, feasible objectives. In this respect, a distinction is drawn between short-term and medium-term priorities, which are to be accomplished within one to two years and three to four years respectively.

These priorities are, in principle, based on the ability of Montenegro to respect:

  • the Copenhagen criteria defined in 1993;
  • the conditions laid down to achieve the Stabilisation and Association Process (Council conclusions of 27 April 1997 and 21 and 22 June 1999);
  • the Zagreb declaration of 2000;
  • the Thessaloniki agenda of 2003.

The short and medium-term priorities correspond to the following classification:

  • key priorities, which are short-term priorities. They concern the structures and basic elements for the establishment of a State, such as the adoption of the constitution, which must be based on a broad consensus and be in line with European standards (human and minority rights, justice, etc.). They imply the establishment of the legal and institutional set-up, the reform of the judicial system (transparency, recruitment and career management, rationalisation and modernisation, financing) and strengthening parliamentary control over defence and security structures. The reform of the public administration (remuneration, recruitment, professionalism, accountability, etc.) must be continued and must provide for European integration and cooperation structures. These priorities also cover the fight against organised crime and corruption as well as full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The necessary structures for the implementation of a future Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) should also be put in place;
  • political requirements. These refer to democracy and the rule of law and concern constitutional issues, elections, parliament, the public administration, the judicial system, anti-corruption policy, human rights and the protection of minorities, regional issues and international obligations;
  • economic requirements. These cover in particular macroeconomic stability (fiscal and public finance adjustment and consolidation, etc.), the structures and capacity to draft and implement the "Economic and Fiscal Programme" proposed by the Commission, public expenditure in terms of management and efficiency (budgetary process and budget capacity, financial management and accounting, etc.), restructuring and privatisation of publicly owned enterprises, a favourable business environment, supervision of the insurance sector through appropriate legislation, and the trade regimes (adjustment to render them compatible with the autonomous trade measures and the future SAA). They also cover the labour force (adaptability and skills), the flexibility of the labour market and the introduction of an integrated research policy;
  • European standards. These refer to certain aspects of the acquis communautaire, i.e. the internal market (free movement of goods and capital, customs and taxation, competition, public procurement, intellectual property law, financial services, company law, employment and social policies, statistics), sectoral policies (industry and small and medium-sized enterprises - SMEs, agriculture and fisheries, the environment, transport, energy, information society and media, financial control, statistics), and the area of justice, freedom and security (visas, border control, asylum and migration, money laundering, drugs, police, fight against organised crime and terrorism, trafficking in human beings, protection of personal data). Montenegro is to work towards harmonising its legislation with the acquis communautaire in these fields and then implementing it.

The priorities identified by the present partnership also form the basis for the Commission assessments.

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

Montenegro is eligible for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for the period 2007-2013. In this process, the European Partnership with Montenegro represents a reference document to determine the various areas for the allocation of funds (according to the priorities). Nevertheless, the programming documents are, in fact, the legal framework for the financial assistance.

At the end of the multiannual indicative financial framework for 2008-2010 (including 2007), the assistance allocated to Montenegro will amount to EUR 131.3 million for the national programmes.

The IPA is the single financial instrument for countries which are candidates or potential candidates for EU membership. It replaces the CARDS programme, which was the financial instrument for the Stabilisation and Association Process for the period 2000-2006. During this period, the financial assistance in favour of Montenegro, with Serbia and Kosovo, amounted to EUR 2 559.8 million.

In addition, Community assistance is subject to the beneficiary countries complying with the essential elements governing their relations with the EU, and in particular real progress in carrying out reforms. Under the European Partnership, Montenegro is required to respect the Copenhagen criteria, the priorities defined in the partnership and the conditions defined by the Council in its Conclusions of 29 April 1997. Failure to do so could result in the Council suspending financial assistance.

Furthermore, Montenegro receives financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB), principally under the regional lending mandate in favour of the south-eastern neighbouring countries. This mandate groups together the countries engaged in the EU accession process and the countries of the Western Balkans. The financing granted by the EIB takes the form of grants and loans.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2007/49/EC30.1.2007-OJ L 20 of 27.1.2007

RELATED ACTS

Council Regulation (EC) No 533/2004 of 22 March 2004 on the establishment of European partnerships in the framework of the stabilisation and association process [Official Journal L 86, 24.03.2004].

Communication from the Commission of 27 January 2006 - The Western Balkans on the road to the EU: consolidating stability and raising prosperity [COM(2006) 27- Not published in the Official Journal].

FINANCIAL PROGRAMMING

Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) [Official Journal L 210 of 31.07.2006].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 8 November 2006 - Instrument for pre-accession assistance. Multi-annual indicative financial framework for 2008-2010 [COM(2006) 672 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Regulation (EC) No 2667/2000of 5 December 2000 on the European Agency for Reconstruction [Official Journal L 306, 07.12.2000].
The European Agency for Reconstruction is responsible for implementation of most of the Community assistance to the Republic of Montenegro, the Republic of Serbia, including Kosovo, as defined by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Its mandate ends on 31 December 2008 for the management of the programmes in progress under the CARDS programme for the period 2000-2006.

Last updated: 22.06.2007
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