Does the National council for European integration have the capacity to be a strategic consultative body within the European integration process?

The National council for European integration (NSEI) still shows its unreadiness to assume an active role within the European integration process. This impression stems from the discussion during the first NSEI’s session in 2011, together with statements from that session. It is evident that there was a lack of constructive debate about the most important issues for NSEI’s functioning – mechanisms for improvement of its capacities. This improvement should ensure that NSEI can take over one of the crucial positions within the EU integration process. Therefore, the NSEI constantly fails to initiate recommendations for overcoming some of the central obstacles in its functioning. This conclusion is confirmed after taking into consideration NSEI’s guidelines for improvement of the integration process. Remark refer to the attitudinal acceptance of the Action plan for Monitoring Implementation of Recommendations given in European Commission’s Opinion by this institution, without any concrete recommendation for its improvement during the preparation and adoption phase.

Considering the Action plan for Monitoring Implementation of Recommendations given in European Commission’s Opinion, after a public debate, improvements are evident in all parts of this plan, except in the part which refers to the Parliament of Montenegro. These improvements came after incorporation of suggestions and recommendations coming from NGOs and the EU. Therefore, it is unclear why Action plan for enhancement of legislative and control role of the Parliament of Montenegro for the period of November 2010 – November 2011 was not a subject of the public debate, while this documents needs improvement in various segments. It should be noted that Parliament’s Action plan fails to define some crucial elements which refer to the development of control mechanisms over the Government as well as the work of the NSEI and the Committee for International Relations and European integration. In addition, Parliament’s Action plan lacks clearly defined indicators which are necessary for monitoring the success in enhancement of central legislative institution’s capacities.

Having in mind limited administrative capacities of the NSEI, which were clearly highlighted by the European Commission, it crucially important to define mechanisms for improving them as soon as it possible. We believe those might be a part of the Strategy for development of human resources in the Parliament of Montenegro for the period January 2011 – December 2013. It is also possible to anticipate mechanisms for development of human resource capacities within the scope of a separate plan/document.

The NSEI has to show its political maturity and initiative in order to fulfill abovementioned. This is the only way for NSEI to become an active and strategically important participant within the accession process of the country to the EU.

Jovana Marović

Senior Researcher of the Institute Alternative

Letter to Mr. Igor Lukšić – Draft text of the additional Government’s conclusions

The Government of Montenegro


Mr. Igor Lukšić

Dear Mr. Lukšić,

Institute Alternative participated in the public debate about the Action Plan to monitor the implementation of recommendations from the European Commission’s Opinion and prepared comments on the draft of this plan. The comments were timely submitted to the Ministries in charge and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, as well as the coordinator of the entire process – the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and European Integration.

As direct participants in the process of preparing the Action Plan, we believe that is very important that the Government at this stage practically demonstrates its willingness to allow the civil society to play an active role in the process of EU integration. Therefore, we propose that the Government prepares a document / report from the public debate with an overview of all proposals, suggestions and recommendations that were submitted during the process. The report should also contain answers to why some proposals have been accepted and included in the final Action Plan and why others were not. In this way, the Government would provide a feedback to the participants of the public debates.

The Action Plan should, after improvements and inclusion of all constructive proposals that came both from civil society and representatives of the European Union, be a good starting point for the implementation of recommendations from the European Commission’s Avis. However, activities and established timeframe for their realization do not constitute a sufficient basis for meeting the recommendations if the sub activities and contents of the strategic legal framework of the reform are not timely and adequately established. Hence, in favor of the realization of seven key priorities for EU membership negotiations, it is necessary to ensure transparency of the process, include all interested stakeholders in the process of defining public policies and strengthen mechanisms for effective monitoring.

We believe that the mechanisms for implementing the Action Plan and effective monitoring could be enhanced by introducing an obligation of the Government to prepare regular monthly reports on the implementation of measures contained in this document. If the Government accepts this proposal, it should prepare seven monthly reports on the implementation of identified measures by September. It is only this way that the public will have direct access to real progress in achieving goals set by the EC.

We also suggest that the first Government’s session of every month until 01 September should be dedicated to the implementation of the Action Plan through a discussion of monthly reports. Besides a strong symbolic importance of commitment to the process of European integration, this would strongly confirm the duty of all responsible entities to report with full attention. This would also fully implement and further strengthen your commitment to personally coordinate this process, as you have stated in your keynote speech.

Attached is the draft text of the additional Government’s conclusions.

We hope that our proposals meet your approval,

Kindest regards,

Stevo Muk

President of Institute Alternative’s Managing Board

Proposed draft text of the additional Government’s conclusions:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is tasked to prepare and publish the report on the public debate on the draft Action Plan which will include an overview of all proposals, suggestions and recommendations that were submitted as well as rationale to why some proposals were accepted and others have not.

Ministries are tasked with providing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration with monthly reports on implementation of measures from the Action Plan by the end of each month, during implementation of the Action Plan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is tasked with preparing an overall report on implementation of the Action Plan for the first Government’s session in each month.

The Government will reserve the first point on the agenda of each first session in the month for the discussion on the monthly report on implementation of the Action Plan.

The Government recommends that the Parliament of Montenegro and other responsible entities identified by the Action Plan prepare monthly reports on implementation of measures under the Action Plan and submit them the Government

Montenegro under the watchful eyes of Đukanović and EU

Change is coming to Montenegro slowly, laboriously and unwillingly. The fact that Igor Lukšić is the Prime Minister is still less relevant than the fact that Milo Đukanović, who is not a Prime Minister, remains politically the most important and influential person in the country.

The new Prime Minister introduced the practice of communicating and cooperating with the opposition, non-governmental actors and other representatives of the society. He also demonstrated a new political sensibility in his approach to social problems, his attitude, and his work methods. Yet, his premiership remains in Đukanović’s shadow. In this context, it is unclear whether Lukšić is at all trying to achieve a certain degree of autonomy in decision-making, and when could that happen.

The process of European integrations, i.e. the principle of conditionality, is the key factor in accelerating reforms.

Without a strong influence of the international community (EU and USA), in synergy with a strengthening role for independent and professional media and NGOs, reforms whose pace would depend on the Government alone would be doomed to stagnate. This much is evident from the intensity of the reform efforts undertaken, albeit mostly in the legal sphere, in an extremely short period under the pressure of living up to the seven recommendations of the European Commission.

With the same people in government for so long, the line separating the leading DPS party from the state itself disappeared. Consequently, regular institutions, norms and practices are not functioning or are doing very poorly in a political context that had been frozen for decades. The most obvious examples of poor results concern the fight against corruption and development of a professional public administration – two areas that are fundamental to the structure of political elite

Major decisions which are crucial for further economic development of Montenegro are delayed or avoided altogether, and the Government failed to rally public support for its proposals and make the citizens believe in transparency and accountability of these processes.

There is much internal struggle within DPS, gradually pitting Đukanović on the one side against Marović and Vujanović on the other. On the surface, the most obvious differences concern identity issues, with Ranko Krivokapić, president of SDP, acting as an explicit interpreter of the politics of the president of DPS. In the meantime, the internal (interest-based) chasms are deepening, threatening to undermine the DPS monolith in the medium term.

While some expect these tensions in DPS’ leadership to soon erupt to the surface, it is still too early to talk about divisions and splits from the party, although it is almost certain that some changes are to take place in the near future.

The opposition is still doing little in terms of organisational and strategic moves to improve its capacities. Public opinion trends suggest that DPS’ popularity continued to grow, while that of the opposition declined slightly, alongside a growing population of non-voters.

Parliamentary elections could take place in autumn 2012. An earlier date would interfere with the demanding six-month monitoring period of the European Commission in expectation of the final opening of accession talks with EU.

Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) in Montenegro

As a candidate country for joining the European Union, Montenegro has the obligation to harmonize its overall legislation with the EU Acquis. Having in mind that there is a significant number of existing laws that have to be amended, as well as those that are yet to be adopted, the state administration has to undergo a comprehensive reform in order to meet the challenge. Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) is one of the mechanisms that will be of great significance for the process of diminishing administrative ballast.

RIA is a method which is used in harmonizing laws and bylaws, indicating financial and material impact that the new legislation will have. It is applied before the law is adopted. This concept has been introduced in the USA, while its use on the European soil has been increasing ever since 2003, when it was implemented on the EU level. Unlike the countries of the region (Serbia and Macedonia) where RIA is applied only to draft laws, in Montenegro RIA will be applied to bylaws as well.

The purpose of this policy brief is to explain the concept of RIA, its significance and the practice of the countries of the region in its implementation. It will explain the challenges that our Government may face while implementing RIA. This brief also tries to open up a public debate about the benefits and effects that the implementation of this mechanism will have.

Plan of parliamentary oversight should be adopted

Institute Alternative invited members of the Parliamentary Committee for Security and Defence to adopt the annual plan of parliamentary oversight, prescribed by the Law on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security and Defense Sector.

According to the Law, parliamentary oversight is performed regularly according to the annual plan adopted by the Committee and extraordinary, if necessary: “the Committee shall, by the end of the calendar year, adopt an annual plan of parliamentary oversight for the coming year”. Since the Law on Parliamentary Oversight of the Security and Defense Sector was adopted in late December 2010 and came into force in early January 2011, it was not realistic to expect the Committee preparing the plan of activities for 2011 at the same time. However, it should not be allowed that the Committee operates without the adopted plan for this year.

Government’s Agenda for the first 100 days and priority activities in 2011 can provide a starting basis for planning the activities of the Committee. There are numerous planned activities and priorities of the ministries, announced draft laws, rules and regulations as well as activities in the security and defense sector that require the Committee to engage in planning obligations under its own annual plan. Also, since the scope of the Committee’s competencies has extended and legally established, it is necessary to start careful planning in order to fulfill all the tasks before the Committee. These include consideration of annual and special reports of the subjects of oversight, monitoring and execution of budgets of these entities, monitoring the participation of the Army in peacekeeping missions and numerous other responsibilities.

The purpose of this plan is not to specify in detail all the possible actions of the Committee or specify their precise deadlines. Plan of parliamentary oversight is needed in order to form a framework for activities of the Committee, predict activity outside the regular sessions of the Parliament, drew up goals for this year, as well as create indicators upon which the work of the Committee could assessed at the end of the year.

Therefore we expect a responsible attitude toward the law adopted by consensus and commitments set forth by the MPs themselves. All the more reason is the obligation of preparing a calendar and schedule of parliamentary committees mentioned in the Action Plan of the Assembly to strengthen the legislative and oversight function, as one of the tasks for the first quarter of 2011.

Planning for the Board in the exercise of legislative and oversight role will offer MPs the opportunity to be better prepared for the responsibilities ahead of them and, in cooperation with the parliamentary service, their parliamentary clubs and party bodies, provide a greater contribution to the implementation of democratic control of defense and security sector.

The adoption of the plan will also create the necessary preconditions for civil society engagement in monitoring the work of the Committee and other forms of cooperation between the Committee and civil society.

Marko Sošić
Project associate

Concession registry must be established

Institute Alternative states that it is necessary to establish a functional, on-line central registry of the concessions agreements as soon as possible. Even though this is as a legal requirement that has existed since February 2009, when the Concessions Act came into force (Article 15 of the Concessions Act, paragraph 5 of this Article specifies that “records of concession contracts are published on the website of the Commission”), a central register of contracts on concessions has not yet been established.

In addition to unjustified delay in the establishment of the registry that would facilitate keeping record of granted concessions, there is an issue of a number of bylaws for the concession area not being adopted yet. This remark applies to Article 61 (2) of the Concession Act: “type of activity that is the subject of the concession contract and the market conditions for its conduct.”

Likewise, the Law on Concessions is not fully compliant with relevant EU documents in this field: non-compliance of legislation is noticeable in the inaccurate definition of concessions for public works, and even the definitions of restricted procedures or competitive dialogue are not adequately transferred from the EU directive.

Public-private partnerships (PPP) will, according to an announcement from the Government, in the future represent the main instrument to battle the budget deficit. Taking into account all the advantages of this model, especially when one takes into account the budget deficit in Montenegro in the area of capital investment, this governmental policy is understandable.

However, past experience of state structures in concluding a contract under the PPP model as well as procedures for granting concessions indicate major deficiencies: access to information on concluded PPP contracts is extremely difficult, noticeable lack of democratic control, violation of legal procedures and favoring of certain private companies have been frequent phenomena.

In favor of better coordination and formation of a PPP expert core, IA believes that it is necessary to establish a specialized body for the PPP in Montenegro that would allow coordinated and controlled the action in this area. Positive experiences of EU countries and those in the region indicate the usefulness of the existence of such bodies.

Also, in addition to the central registry for the concession contracts, it is to make them all publicly available and create a national database of signed contracts. This database should provide access to periodic reports on implementation of the PPP, including financial reports on the implementation of the PPP, as well as plans for the annual repayment of debt of the public sector for PPP projects.

Jovana Marović
Senior research associate at Institute Alternativa