Montenegro continues to improve the situation in the areas of environment, climate change, transport, energy, and regional policy. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in these areas, which requires additional improvement of administrative capacities at both the national and local levels. This assessment was made at the 16th meeting of the Subcommittee for Transport, Environment, Climate Change, Energy, and Regional Policy between Montenegro and the European Commission.
During the meeting, the importance of the areas under discussion was emphasized, considering the significant scope of the obligations covered in the negotiation chapters and their impact on Montenegrin society’s overall development and the quality of life for all citizens.
In her opening remarks, Ana Novaković Đurović, Minister of Ecology, Spatial Planning, and Urbanism and coordinator of the Ministry of European Affairs, expressed gratitude to the EU for supporting Montenegro’s European perspective and fundamental reforms towards full harmonization with European standards. She emphasized the government’s full commitment to implementing and intensifying these reforms.
Novaković – Đurović presented key results, focusing on essential legal and strategic documents in the areas discussed during the meeting. She affirmed that Montenegro remains dedicated to this priority goal and expressed confidence that, with further support from the EU, even better results will be achieved at the next Subcommittee meeting.
Regarding the field of transportation, Novaković Đurović highlighted that Montenegro has fulfilled all the conditions to become a full member of the Paris Memorandum on State Port Control starting July 1 of this year. This accomplishment fulfills a key recommendation from the European Commission concerning maritime transport.
“In the energy sector, the day-ahead market was officially launched on April 26, paving the way for further development of the Montenegrin electricity market and its integration into the European Union market. This allows electricity to be traded in Montenegro in accordance with the best European practices,” stated Novaković Đurović.
She mentioned that in the field of waste management, the government has prepared and submitted the Draft Law on Waste Management to the European Commission for its opinion. Additionally, the State Waste Management Plan and the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment for the State Waste Management Plan 2023-2028 have been prepared. Novaković Đurović emphasized the significance of the “Industrial waste management and cleaning” project, implemented in collaboration with the World Bank, which aims to rehabilitate ecological black spots such as the former Bijela shipyard, the Maljevac ash and slag landfill, the Gradac flotation tailings pond in Pljevlja, and the location of KAP-a in Podgorica (waste dump and red mud pool).
Regarding nature protection, Novaković Đurović mentioned that the Draft Law on Nature Protection is being prepared, and Montenegro has expanded its territory with three protected marine areas: the Platamuni Nature Park, the Katič Nature Park, and Stari Ulcinj Nature Park.
“This completes the process of establishing the first protected areas in the sea, providing conditions for their adequate protection. Montenegro has increased the area of protected areas by almost 5,000 hectares,” Novaković Đurović explained.
The minister stated that Montenegro is continuing to collect data to identify potential Natura 2000 areas and has taken significant steps toward the effective protection of the Ulcinj salt pan.
Head of Unit D2 for Montenegro and Serbia in the General Directorate for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Michael Miller, expressed the EU’s commitment to supporting Montenegro in making progress towards meeting the final benchmarks in the negotiation chapters.
“Our commitment and determination are stronger than ever, and we want to work closely with Montenegro on its European path. It is crucial to implement steps throughout the region to reduce energy dependence on Russia and accelerate the energy transition through reforms in the energy sector,” stated Miller.
He further highlighted that the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, includes the Western Balkans. As a result, the leaders of the Western Balkans committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the summit in Sofia.
Miller acknowledged that the Subcommittee meeting takes place in a new political context shortly after parliamentary and presidential elections. He expressed hope that a new stable majority will soon be formed in the Parliament, accelerating the EU accession process.
“The progress in the rule of law will determine the overall pace of negotiations. We urge the new Assembly and the new Government to prioritize meeting temporary standards interim benchmarks in the rule of law, as this can lead to the closure of a significant larger number of chapters in a short period. It will provide a real boost to the accession process and tangible benefits for your citizens,” Miller emphasized.
He also referred to the new growth plan for the Western Balkans presented by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, which focuses on four pillars: bringing the Western Balkans closer to the EU single market, deepening regional economic integration, accelerating fundamental reforms, and increasing pre-accession funds.
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