European Commission Report’s findings for 2023 as expected

Dragana Jaćimović, public policy researcher at the Institute Alternative, participated in an online discussion organised by the European Policy Centre (CEP) on the topic of the European Union (EU) enlargement package for 2023 and the very functioning of democratic institutions in the countries of the Western Balkans.

The participants also discussed the recently published reports of the European Commission, as well as recommendations for the further path of the countries of the Western Balkans towards institutional reform and fulfilling the conditions for further integration into the EU.

“The findings of the latest report of the European Commission were expected, where similar criticisms as in previous years were repeated. There were no backslidings, nor the break through when it comes to the assessment of progress during the last year”, concluded Jaćimović.

Answering the question about Montenegro’s readiness to become the 28th member of the EU by 2028, Jaćimović said that it remains to be seen how the new 44th Government will work towards achieving this priority, which is listed as one of the main goals in the future work. She pointed out that membership in the EU had been, at least declaratively, a priority of the previous governments, but that not enough concrete actions and results were achieved.

“Stagnation of the process is reflected in a fact that interim benchmarks for Chapters 23 and 24 have not been met even after 10 years since they were formulated. This affects the overall progress in negotiation process, since other chapters cannot be provisionally closed before meeting interim benchmarks in the rule of law”, Jaćimović stated, and added that the latest European Commission report gives clear indications of what needs to be done in the following period, and what is expected from the new Government is to form a stable and functional negotiation structure as soon as possible.

“Reaching an agreement on key positions in the judiciary is the main precondition for reforms in the judiciary. This depends solely on the political will of the parties, which is a first step for meeting interim benchmarks in the rule of law”.

She also pointed to the new recommendation of the European Commission related to the elimination of the risk of infiltration of organised crime and corruption in the judiciary, which is especially important when taking into account the numerous cases initiated by the Special State Prosecutor’s Office and in which the enormous infiltration of organised crime in state structures.

The discussion was opened by the ambassador of Italy in Serbia, Luka Gori, and Director-General for EU Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) at the European Commission Gert Jan Koopman.

In addition to Jaćimović, comments and findings were also presented by panelists from the Western Balkan countries: Strahinja Subotić (CEP), Simonida Kacarska (European Policy Institute – Skopje), Arbëresha Loxha Stublla (Group for Legal and Political Studies – Prishtina), Haris Ćutahija (Foreign Policy Initiative – Sarajevo), Daniel Prroni (Institute for Democracy and Mediation – Tirana).

You can watch the discussion at the following link.

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