Brussels, 12 October 2011
Key findings of the 2011 Progress Report on Montenegro
The Progress Report on Montenegro is part of the 2011 Enlargement Package adopted by the European Commission on 12 October. The Commission's Report focused on the country's performance on the seven key priorities set out in the 2010 Opinion on the country's application for EU membership, and concluded that Montenegro has made good progress, in particular in addressing the identified key priorities, achieving overall satisfactory results and is now ready to open accession negotiations. Reforms need to continue, in particular in view of consolidating the track record in combating corruption and organised crime and ensuring full implementation of the anti-discrimination legislation.
Montenegro has made good progress in meeting the political criteria for membership of the EU, in particular in addressing the seven key priorities identified in the Commission Opinion, released in November 2010. The legislative and institutional framework has been significantly improved, resulting in strengthening the work of the parliament, the electoral framework, the professionalism and de-politicisation of public administration, the independence and accountability of the judiciary, anti-corruption policy, media freedom and cooperation with the civil society. Montenegro's track record in combating corruption and organised crime follows a positive trend. Good steps have been made to improve the implementation of anti-discrimination policies and to guarantee the legal status of displaced persons and ensure the respect of their rights.
Montenegro continued to play its constructive role in the region and to broadly respect the conditions of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
However, both policy and legislation implementation remains a challenge. Continuing efforts are needed to further develop the track record in combating corruption and organised crime, and to ensure the sound implementation of anti-discrimination policies, including for displaced persons. Vulnerable groups continue to face discrimination in practice. The ongoing reform of the judiciary remains to be completed in view of strengthening in practice its independence, impartiality and efficiency.
Montenegro made further progress in establishing a functioning market economy. The Montenegrin economy started to recover in 2010 and reinforced its macroeconomic stability, stabilising the banking sector and maintaining a relatively prudent fiscal stance, as well as pursuing fiscal adjustments and restructuring of strategic sectors. Montenegro remained consistent in its economic policy and made further progress in some structural reforms, thus improving the quality of public finances. Integration and openness of the economy with EU, Western Balkans and EFTA countries increased.
Yet, persisting structural problems of the Montenegrin economy and the fragile international financial environment continue to put the recovery of country's economy in danger. Businesses continue to be confronted with tight and expensive credit conditions. Unemployment remains high. The privatisation process has been influenced by the negative global environment. Further steps are needed to adopt and implement the necessary reforms in order to minimise structural weaknesses. Adaptability and skills of the labour force are to be strengthened, and the transport and energy infrastructure enhanced. Fiscal consolidation has to be kept on track and measures need to be taken for the accumulation of tax arrears. Environmental sustainability and the economic growth have to be combined productively. Lingering weaknesses in the rule of law negatively affect the investment and business environment.
Montenegro continues to smoothly implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Important laws have been adopted and the dialogue with EU institutions and the civil society has been enhanced in further aligning country's legislation to the acquis. Significant compliance and progress has been achieved in science and research, audiovisual policies, public procurement and company law.
Yet, Montenegro has to face significant challenges both in adopting and implementing the necessary legislation in order to ensure alignment with the acquis in key areas such as social policy and employment, regional policy, environment, competition, and financial control, as well as free movement of goods, protection of intellectual property, agricultural policy, food safety, fisheries, justice, freedom and security.
EU-MONTENEGRO: KEY DATES
October 2007: signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU
15 December 2008: Montenegro applied for EU membership
19 December 2009: Montenegro obtained visa-free travel to the Schengen countries
1 May 2010: The SAA entered into force.
9 November 2010: The European Commission published its Opinion on Montenegro's application for EU membership.
16 December 2010: The European Council granted Candidate Status to Montenegro.
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