Montenegro: New demanding phase in EU process
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro Nebojša Kaluđerović in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the negotiation process for EU membership. "The opening of accession negotiations in June was a fair recognition of the impressive progress Montenegro has made in the reform process," Commissioner Füle said. "With all appreciation for the work already done, however, accession negotiations are a very demanding process and Montenegro needs to continue with the same commitment. Constitutional reform, overall strengthening of judicial independence, and the fight against corruption and organised crime are among the most important issues," he added. "Due attention also still needs to be paid to open regional and bilateral issues."
Commissioner Füle agreed with minister Kaluđerović on the need to maintain the good dynamics of the reform process in order to achieve the necessary progress in the accession negotiations. "This would not only bring Montenegro closer to its goal of entering the EU, but it would also underline the credibility of the enlargement process and be beneficial for the whole region. Credibility needs to be a permanent feature of our joint work," Commissioner Füle stressed.
The European Union officially launched the accession talks with Montenegro on 29 June at the Intergovernmental conference after the European Council had endorsed the decision to start negotiations. Montenegro is the first country in which the Commission applies its new approach with the strengthened focus on fundamental freedoms, judiciary, fight against corruption and organized crime covered by Chapter 23 and 24. The new approach will allow these complex chapters to be opened early on in the negotiating process and to be closed at the very end; focusing on developing a track record and introducing interim benchmarks.
Commissioner Füle and Minister Kaluđerović also discussed the parliamentary elections, which will take place on 14 October. Reiterating the European Commission's engagement and full support for the country's efforts in preparing for EU membership, Commissioner Füle invited Montenegro to remain focused on the country's EU agenda and on continuing with the comprehensive reforms for the benefit of all Montenegrin citizens.