The European Commission published the Report for Montenegro within the enlargement package, as well as the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi presented in Brussels the Report of the European Commission for 2020 and Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans, while the broadcast of the press conference was followed by media representatives, the Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Ambassador Oana Cristina Popa and Chief Negotiator Aleksandar Drljević.
Shortly after the press conference of Commissioner Várhelyi, Head of the EU Delegation Ambassador Popa delivered to the Chief Negotiator the European Commission Report on Montenegro for 2020.
Várhelyi clarified at the press conference that the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans worth EUR nine billion should accelerate the economic recovery of the region after the epidemic, as well as the convergence with the Europe. “The Plan should bring great changes to the Western Balkans not only in the economy, but also for all the inhabitants of this region in the following four to five years,” he added.
Várhelyi also announced the support of EUR 20 billion in public and private investments over the next ten years through the new grant fund for the Western Balkans.
“In total it should bring up to EUR 28 billion in investments to this region. It is nearly 30% of the GDP of the entire region that should improve its investment opportunities. We expect a significant impact of this plan – at least the economy growth to the average 3,6 %,” he explained.
He emphasised that he expects effects on infrastructure of the Western Balkans, which still lacks and which should much better connect the region within, but also with the European Union.
Chief Negotiator with the EU Aleksandar Drljević said that we have received the new European Commission Report on Montenegro in a special political moment, bearing in mind the recently held parliamentary elections in Montenegro. Despite of the critics stated in the Report, Drljević believes that Montenegro can be the EU member state until 2025.
“We got firm assurances that the door of the EU are open for countries of the Balkan and I think that this goal can be achieved. A lot has been done and our citizens expect it from us,” said Drljević on presenting the Report.
Now, as he said, we were awaiting the formation of the new government which would, as Drljević is convinced of, continue the pro – European course with striving to make Montenegro the first next member of the EU, guiding in the first place with the best interest of citizens. He stressed that the Report stated inability of appointing the key functions in judiciary during the 2019, which as he said, resulted in functions filled on an acting basis.
In terms of the Chapters 23 and 24, Drljević recalled that the Report noted improved capacities of institutions in the area of combating corruption.
“We consider as very significant that the Report recognises efforts of Montenegrin institutions in fight against organised crime, international cooperation of police and participation in international actions of suppressing the crime which led to the large seizures. In addition, a solid balance is confirmed in results regarding the final court judgement in the areas of fight against human trafficking, money laundering and smuggling of cigarettes,” said Drljević, adding that we are aware of the system weaknesses which should be removed, in order to continue the successful process to the EU.
“Reappointment of individual presidents of courts, the lack of editorial independence of the RTCG, the arrest of portal editor – are just some of the negative qualifications, to which particular attention should be paid and an adequate response should be given,” Drljević concluded.
The Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Oana Cristina Popa pointed out that Montenegro must develop in terms of economic criteria the functional market economy and acquire the ability to cope with the competition.
“A certain progress has been achieved in this area. However, outbreak of the Sars – CoV – 2 virus epidemic brought to the serious challenges in economy, thus presenting significant pressure for the public finances. Meanwhile, despite the certain signals towards the improvement of the business environment, measures for fight against grey economy are postponed and a large number of companies whose bank accounts have been frozen are constantly present. Limited progress has been made in the area of measures to activate the labour force and coordination between employment and social services. Very modest investments have been made to the knowledge and human capital, which resulted in a low level of innovation and productivity of domestic companies,” said Ambassador Popa at the press conference in Podgorica.
The European Commission Report on Montenegro for 2020 and Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans in the English language, you can download here.
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