Montenegro expects to open Chapter 8 - Competition and close two chapters this year, with continued implementation of planned commitments, said Deputy Chief Negotiator Marko Mrdak. He assessed that the proposed new methodology, while not technically applicable to Montenegro, was a political message of encouragement and impetus for the negotiation process.
Mrdak said, during a guest appearance on broadcast ,,Europe" on Radio of Montenegro, that the innovations that the new methodology brings, in technical terms, are not fully applicable to Montenegro.
"The technical part relating to the grouping of chapters by cluster is not applicable to us, so the concrete benefit of the new methodology for Montenegro will be in political terms. The new methodology will ensure continuity of dialogue between Montenegro and the Member States, which has not been the case so far. Obviously, the new methodology has recognized the need to discuss at the highest political level the future of the Western Balkans, in the context of enlargement policy" he declared.
Mrdak also said the new methodology calls for some changes to the European Commission's annual reports. "It has been announced that they will be adopted at intergovernmental conferences, in cooperation with Member States, where they will clearly indicate the results and shortcomings achieved. The EU will place greater emphasis on delivering results on the merit of states, with clear deficiencies highlighted, which encourages the negotiation process."
As he said, the Government will surely accept whatever the political offer from the EU is, but before it can formally declare, it must wait for the official position of the EU Council on the proposed methodology.
When it is about progress in the negotiations, Mrdak said that, if open and closed chapters were taken as a measure of progress, it could be accepted that there was no progress in 2019. "However, the negotiation process is much broader than that. During 2019, Montenegro had a stable level of realization of all planned obligations, within the mandate of this Government. That level was always between 72% and 75%, so that in 2019 of the planned 300 obligations, the Government realized about 220".
Opening and closing the chapter, he stressed, does not always correspond to the real situation and the reforms implemented, as indicated by Chapter 8, which has been ready for opening for a long time.
"We can expect this chapter to be opened in 2020. This is the chapter with the biggest number of opening benchmarks, the area that has always been a stumbling block for other accession countries, too. The chapters that we can close as soon as the conditions at the level of Montenegro - EU are created are Chapters 20 and 7. By the end of this year, the Government plans to achieve internal readiness to close several more chapters. By internal acceptance, we mean that all the obligations under the chapter are fulfilled, but it is important to mention that procedures until the formal closure can sometimes take half a year, a year or longer, ” he explained.
Mrdak said that, over the past year Montenegro had aproved or adopted laws that directly benefit citizens. He also recalled that Montenegro, through current IPA II structure, has € 279.1 million at its disposal. "It is positive that citizens recognize the EU as the largest donor in Montenegro and it is clear how this process contributes to better standards, to which citizens benefit."
"In the near future, it can be expected that EU funds will be used to reconstruct most of the Montenegrin courts. The building of the Clinic for Infectious and Skin Diseases will be constructed in Podgorica, and the project to relocate the city's wastewater collector will be partly funded by the EU funds. If we now have EUR 279.1, it is estimated that we can expect four times more on an annual basis, which means that EUR 1.2 billion will be able to withdraw on accession day, " he said.
Mrdak stated that he was pleased that the opinion poll did not show ,,enlargement process fatigue“ in Montenegro, as it was with the previous accession countries, but that we still have stable public opinion support for EU membership, especially from the younger population.
GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTENEGRO
SECTOR FOR INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE EU AND THE EU ACCESSION PROCESS