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Montenegro accepts new methodology, good platform for intensifying reforms

Montenegro accepts new methodology, good platform for intensifying reforms
Published date 15.05.2020 14:01 | Author PR Service

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The Government of Montenegro has accepted the proposed methodology of the EU accession process, which will serve as a good platform for intensifying the reform process, Deputy Chief Negotiator Marko Mrdak pointed out. 

The Montenegrin Cabinet passed, on Thursday, the information on a new methodology for the accession to the EU and decided that Montenegro should accept a new model of negotiations. 

Appearing on this occasion, as a guest in the show "Europe" on Radio and Television of Montenegro, the Deputy Chief Negotiator explained that after the General Affairs Council of the EU accepted the proposal on the new methodology, conditions were met for the Government of Montenegro to formally declare itself on that issue. 

"The new methodology itself can neither slow down nor speed up the process, but it gives us a good platform that we can use very well for intensification of reform processes and more intensive communication with member states, so that using these elements we will be able to intensify reforms. Using the new methodology will enable us to progress in the best way," he explained.

Asked whether Montenegro would be obliged to change the negotiating framework due to the new methodology, Mrdak emphasised that Montenegro has its own negotiating structure and that the framework will not change.

As he pointed out, it is important to pay attention to the overall context, reminding that we have had clear political messages about the European future of the Western Balkans since the formation of the European Commission and that giving importance to the Western Balkans in the midst of health and economic crisis is a clear signal of strong relations.

"For Montenegro, the new methodology does not mean much in the technical sense, but in the political sense, it is a reflection of the readiness to build a process and work on it in a more intensive dialogue with member states," Mrdak said.

According to him, it is sometimes difficult to draw the line between the technical and political part in negotiations, but in principle the most obvious novelty in technical terms are the clusters and structure of the EC report with clear indicators and responsibilities for all chapters.

"In the political sense, we can carve out the significant involvement of members in all phases of negotiations, more frequent summits, ministerial contacts, annual intergovernmental conferences. The novelty is both positive and negative conditionality, in the current negotiating structure. The negative one, a clause of balance, is known to us and the positive one refers to the gradual inclusion of candidate countries in EU policies, after the successful results have been achieved," he added.

Mrdak explained that, when it comes to the impact of cluster on the opening of Chapter 8, no difficulties can be expected, given that Montenegro has met all initial benchmarks and hopes to get the green light from all members in the soon opening of the chapter. "Maybe we are closer to talking about closing the cluster, not opening it. We have a significant number of chapters ready for closure, such as Chapters 7, 3, 6 and 28, whose closure we can expect in the future," he pointed out.

When it comes to the budget related to the Western Balkans, Mrdak recalled that the EC allocated the largest budget so far, about EUR 14.5 billion for the countries of the Western Balkans in the perspective related to the period 2021-2027, which represents an increase compared to the current period for 2014-2020, which amounts to about EUR 11 billion.

"Through significant allocations, the intention of the EC to act most efficiently in its environment is best confirmed. We are monitoring the currently intense debate at the EU level on the preparation of the medium-term budget framework, I think that an increase in the budget is a very positive message at a time when one of the largest budget donors, the UK, is leaving the EU. That is a clear signal that the Western Balkans is a priority," Mrdak said.

Regarding Chapters 23 and 24, Mrdak emphasised that the new methodology does not make a significant difference from the current negotiation process of Montenegro.

"Montenegro is already negotiating according to the strictest criteria and everything that the new methodology prescribes is something that Montenegro is already implementing on a daily basis. Montenegro already knows everything that the new methodology envisages in the area of the rule of law and the colleagues who lead that area have vast knowledge, which they can share with North Macedonia and Albania, in order to make their process more efficient," Mrdak said.