Saturday

6th Jun 2020

Montenegro files EU membership application

Montenegro on Monday (15 December) presented its official application for EU membership to current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy, hoping to win EU candidate country status some time next year.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the move, saying: "Today Montenegro has reached a historical milestone marking the country's important engagement to common European values and fundamentals."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Montenegro has made important progress in its preparations for the European integration," he added.

The move comes after the former Yugoslav country of some 680,000 people declared independence from Serbia in June 2006 and signed a pre-accession deal – the so-called Stabilisation and Accession Agreement (SAA) – with the EU in October 2007.

It had first planned to file its membership application in the first half of this year, under Slovenia's EU presidency, but changed its mind after Brussels warned it was too early for such a move.

The commission says the country is still lagging behind in many fields and EU membership is not expected to occur in the very near future.

Among other issues, Montenegro needs to reform further its public administration, as well as its judicial system and to make further efforts in the fight against corruption – problematic areas common to all Balkan states.

The Council - the institution representing EU member states - is now to ask the European Commission for an opinion on Podgorica's membership application.

If Brussels's opinion is positive, the application has then to be approved by all EU member states unanimously, giving Montenegro the status of a "candidate country."

Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic earlier stated he expected Brussels to give its opinion during the Czech Republic's EU presidency, which begins on 1 January 2009 and will run for six months.

Prague has already indicated that accelerating the enlargement process towards the western Balkans would be one of its priorities while at the EU's helm.

An example to the region

Commissioner Rehn underlined the example Podgorica set for its neighbours.

"The European perspective of the western Balkan countries, including Montenegro, is essential for the stability and the prosperity of the region and for the EU," he stated.

"By making solid progress in economic and political reform and by fulfilling the necessary conditions and requirements, the remaining potential candidates in the western Balkans should achieve candidate status, according to their own merits, with EU membership as the ultimate goal," he added.

Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Kosovo are all "potential EU candidates" and eye membership of the bloc in the long run.

For their part, Croatia and Macedonia have been EU candidates since 2004 and 2005, respectively.

Croatia opened EU accession talks in 2005 and is expected to conclude them by the end of 2009. It then aims to become a full EU member by 2011 at the latest.

Macedonia has not opened EU negotiations yet.

Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav country having obtained EU membership. It joined the bloc on 1 May 2004.

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us