Saturday

23rd Feb 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.

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. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us