Reform activities in the rule of law area represent the core of Montenegro’s negotiation process with the European Union. In other words, the pace of negotiations in all other chapters of the EU Acquis depends on dynamics of implementation of activities within the Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and Chapter 24 – Justice, Freedom and Security. In order to fulfill the commitments undertaken in this area in the most quality way, a special body was established within the negotiating structure – the Rule of Law Council. It is the highest political level body established with the aim of improving the coordination and monitoring of implementation of commitments within chapters 23 and 24.
Bearing in mind that accession negotiations in the rule of law area are becoming more demanding over time, a need arose to intensify the work and improve the efficiency of this body. To this end, on 13 June 2019 the Government issued the Decision on the Rule of Law Council (Official Gazette of Montenegro, no. 36/19 and 46/19), which significantly reduced the number of members of this body (from 39 to 13 members), thus adapting its format and way of functioning to the needs of current phase of negotiation process. Members of the Council are the heads of relevant state bodies in the field of rule of law, while the president of this body is the Deputy Prime Minister for political system, internal and foreign policy.
Role of the Rule of Law Council is to monitor the implementation of obligations within chapters 23 and 24 in the process of Montenegro’s accession to the European Union, in accordance with recommendations of the chief negotiator and the member of the Negotiating Group for conducting negotiations of Montenegro’s accession to the European Union. Also, the Council monitors the implementation of obligations with the aim of fulfilling interim and, subsequently, the closing benchmarks in chapters 23 and 24, considers the reasons for delay in implementation of obligations and gives recommendations to state bodies, state administration bodies and other bodies and institutions for urgent response in order to implement the obligations within the chapters 23 and 24. In addition, the Council performs other tasks, in accordance with the Decision on establishing structure for negotiations on accession of Montenegro to the European Union.
Sessions of the Council are held in accordance with the needs of negotiation process dynamics and related activities in the rule of law area, in particular within the chapters 23 and 24. The president of the Council convenes the sessions at his own discretion or upon the proposal of members of the Council. The president of the Council may organize consultative meetings with the members of the Council responsible for implementation of specific activities in the rule of law area, in order to urgently resolve an issue which slows down the dynamics of negotiations in chapters 23 and 24. The president of the Council may, if necessary, invite to the sessions or consultative meetings the heads of bodies or representatives of institutions who are not members of the Council, and request information, explanations and reports on issues relating to the implementation of obligations within chapters 23 and 24. The president of the Council, as needed, informs the College for Negotiations on Accession of Montenegro to the European Union on dynamics of fulfillment of obligations within chapters 23 and 24.