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Brussels, 13 December 2011

Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle on the launching of Montenegro's accession process by the European Council

This week, the European Commission has already started to prepare the negotiating framework with Montenegro as well as the preparatory work for an early opening of the chapters covering rule of law, judiciary and fundamental rights, as requested by the European Council last Friday. In this respect, I have asked the European Commission's Director General for Enlargement to visit the country and exchange views with the government about the next steps in the process.

I encourage Montenegro to keep the pace of reforms in the months to come. In particular, I look forward to a strengthened cooperation with Montenegro on the rule of law, judiciary and fundamental rights. The European Commission will continue assisting the country in its efforts and will present, as requested by the European Council, a report on the progress achieved by Montenegro in these areas in the first half of 2012.

The decision of the European Council with a view to opening of the accession negotiations with Montenegro in June 2012 is a clear recognition of the progress the country has made over the five years of its independence, and in particular since last December when it was granted EU candidate status.

On this occasion, I congratulate Montenegro and its authorities for the excellent work and determination in implementing reforms. Together with the government, Montenegro's parliamentary opposition, civil society and media played an important role, and I count on their continued support in the future.

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