Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, has recently participated in the 5th ministerial-level meeting of the accession conference with Montenegro. At the press conference, he said that it was his pleasure to participate in the event during which next four chapters of negotiations were opened. “This is a clear signal that the enlargement process is progressing” he added.
In case of Montenegro, accession talks generally depend on the pace the country will be able to progress in the rule of law reforms. Recently, Podgorica – Montenegro’s capital city – made a lot of progress in this important area, mostly in the fight against corruption. The new laws that the Montenegrin Parliament adopted only last week are targeting precisely this issue. Based on the ranking of Transparency International, Montenegro ranks 76 out of 175 scoring 42 out of 100 points on its corruption index. In contrast, Denmark, the least corrupted country in the world based on the same index, scores 92 points out of 100.
Although Brussels praised Podgorica for last week’s ‘yes’ to anti-corruption legislation, only their effective implementation will help to achieve concrete results. “It is of utmost importance that Montenegro establishes a credible track record of implementation. Therefore, the implementing bodies need to be equipped rapidly with trained staff, equipment, and budget,” Commissioner Hahn added. Montenegro officially applied to join the EU on 15 December 2008 and the EU Commission recommended the country as a candidate two years later. Montenegro’s population is very supporting of the EU membership with more than 75 percent being in favor and only about 10 percent against, based on polling in October 2009.