„The priority for further general progress in the accession negotiations, and before moving towards the provisional closure of other chapters, remains the fulfilment of the remaining rule of law interim benchmarks set under chapters 23 and 24. In order to achieve this important step, Montenegro needs to close the remaining gaps in critical areas of judiciary, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, the fight against corruption and organized crime“, said Michael Miller, head of the Unit for Montenegro and Serbia in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations.
He said that at the eleventh meeting of the EU-Montenegro Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security, which was held on 15 and 16 February 2022, in online format. During the meeting, representatives of the European Commission and relevant Montenegrin institutions analyzed the achieved results and discussed about next key steps in the areas covered by Chapters 23 and 24, related to judiciary reform, fundamental rights, fight against corruption and organized crime, judicial cooperation, cooperation in the field on fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, as well as migration and border management.
Miller said that it was important that Montenegro did not fall behind when it comes to achievements in the field of judiciary, where it is necessary to show commitment to full and unambiguous implementation of reforms. He stressed the need for active and constructive participation by all parties to enhance parliamentary accountability, oversight of the executive, democratic scrutiny, to improve the quality of legislation and for key appointments. He also recalled that the European Union has been supporting and will continue to support Montenegro in bringing legislation and practice in line with the EU acquis and European standards.
“Consistent implementation of reforms in the field of rule of law in the EU accession process remains a key driver of all positive changes in Montenegrin society for a better future for citizens,” said the chief negotiator, Zorka Kordić. The transformative capacity that entails the obligations in Chapters 23 and 24 will significantly affect the further dynamics of shaping the political landscape in Montenegro, bearing in mind that especially the reform of the judiciary requires a higher degree of responsibility of all political entities.
She pointed out that today’s presentations of institutions, as well as the data that we continuously submit to the European Commission, are an indicator that, although 2021 was the year of institutional consolidation, all bodies involved in the rule of law reform managed to present their obligations. In this context, she pointed out that the negotiating structure under the working groups for Chapters 23 and 24 showed exceptional proactivity in work and strengthened the dynamics of consultations and quality of materials, and improved the strategic planning framework, through dynamic plans and accompanying self-assessment, Action plan for addressing recommendations from the EC Report and the new Montenegro’s Programme of Accession to the European Union.
As she said, Montenegro is interested in showing that it is the best example of the application of the revised methodology of negotiations with the EU, and remains committed to meeting the remaining provisional benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24, which are at the center of the efforts of all our institutions and whose fulfillment will be the trigger for closing all other chapters of the EU acquis.
Negotiator for Cluster 1 and head of the Working Group for Chapter 23, State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Bojan Božović, said that the Subcommittee is the best platform for presenting the results of the previous period. He pointed out that the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights continues to make efforts to achieve positive practices, both in the area of judiciary and the fight against corruption, as well as in the area of fundamental rights.
The head of the Working Group for Chapter 24 and advisor to the Minister of the Interior, Majda Adžović, expressed satisfaction with the statement that significant progress has been made within Chapter 24 and thanked the European Commission for acknowledging the progress achieved in this area. As she said, the achieved results confirm that the work and work in the past period paid off, and that it will continue at the same pace in the following period.
The Subcommittee meeting is part of the regular political dialogue between the EU and Montenegro, which is being held within the framework of the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTENEGRO
SECTOR FOR INFORMING THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE EU AND THE EU ACCESSION PROCESS