Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Montenegro opens two EU accession chapters

The EU opened two new chapters in the accession negotiations with Montenegro during a ministerial accession conference in Brussels Monday (21 December).

A week after opening negotiations with Serbia and relaunching talks with Turkey, Montenegro is the third country on the so-called Western Balkan route followed by migrants coming to Europe to see its membership talks move forward.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"I am happy to see that enlargement policy has received a new boost," said Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign affairs minister, whose country chairs the rotating EU presidency until next week.

"This policy is crucial in addressing current challenges," he said at the press conference.

Montenegro was also invited to join NATO early December in a move to thwart Russian influence in the region.

With chapters 14 and 15, on transport and energy, Montenegro has now opened 22 of the 35 chapters of the acquis, the corpus of EU legislation candidate countries have to adopt. Two have been already closed, on science and research, and on culture and education.

Potential accession in 2021

The two previous chapters had been opened last June.

"Let's hope that in the next year or year and a half we may meet all requirements to open all the chapters," Montenegro's vice prime minister, Igor Luksic, said at the press conference with Asselborn.

"It is very difficult to estimate when the process can end," Luksic said, adding that "to remain motivated, we keep in mind that, potentially, accession might be in 2021".

The opening of two new chapters in the negotiations that started in 2012 takes place amid a tense political situation in Montenegro, where the opposition has been demonstrating for several months, demanding free and fair elections and setting up camp in the capital Podgorica.

On Sunday (20 December), a protest was organised in front of the parliament in Podgorica and a new demonstration is planned for Wednesday.

"We encourage Montenegro's government to take the necessary decisions to ensure that the rule of law leads to concrete results," Asselborn said.

Ahead of next year's elections, "it is essential for Montenegro to complete implementation of the new electoral law," he said.

In its latest accession report on Montenegro, published last month, the European Commission said it "expected that all incidents of violence and allegations of excessive use of force [during demonstrations in the autumn] will be duly investigated".

It also pointed out that Montenegro was "moderately prepared" with regards to public administration reform and the judicial system.

'Challenging process'

In Brussels vice-prime minister Luksic admitted that the "process remains very intensive, very challenging", citing the rule of law, economic governance and public administration as fields in which Montenegro needs to show results.

In its report, the commission noted that "Montenegro has achieved some level of preparation" in the fight against corruption, but that "the track record on effective investigation, prosecution and final convictions in corruption cases, in particular regarding high-level corruption, remains limited."

Things may be moving however, as Svetozar Marovic, a former president of Serbia and Montenegro when the two countries were a federation after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, was arrested on 18 December on corruption charges.

Nato invites Montenegro to start accession talks

A Nato that includes Montenegro would cover almost the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The extended hand to Montenegro can be expected to trigger sharp reactions from Russia.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Agriculture MEPs elect far-right vice-chair
  2. Johnson is next British prime minister
  3. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  4. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  5. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  6. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  7. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  8. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us