European Commission’s recommendations to be translated into a concrete action plan

Recommendations and priorities noted in the European Commission’s Report on Montenegro, the Government must translate into a concrete action plan, which would outline a clear responsibility of each member of the Government, as well as of other institutions, either for successes or failures in its implementation.

Recently published Report of the European Commission on Montenegro has showed that the process of European integration stagnated in the last year. Tapping in place is the best reflected in the fact that in many as 30 of the 33 chapters, only “limited progress“ has been identified. No backsliding has been identified in any area this year either, although the Functioning of Judiciary, as a special aspect under Chapter 23, has been assessed worse than in the last year (with no progress compared to limited progress).

Such assessment should be an alarm to the current Government that it is necessary to have more serious approach to the messages stated in this Report, and to concretise the obligations presented to us on our European path. In addition, it is necessary that all political stakeholders show a will for a constructive dialogue about main appointments in judiciary, given the fact that it is the key priority on which depends progress in the negotiations.

The best and most efficient way for the Government is to articulate the European Commission’s recommendations into a concrete action-oriented plan of the Government, the Parliament and other responsible independent institutions. The Plan must clearly outline the tasks, deadlines, but also responsibility either for successes or failures of individual departments and people who manage them. The revised methodology for accession process also predicts intergovernmental conferences after publishing annual reports, in order to set priorities for the next year and take corrective measures in relation to the situation identified in the reports. This is why the Government should show proactivity and readiness to address priorities, and what is equally important, to share these plans with Montenegrin citizens, who strongly support Montenegro’s accession to the European Union (EU).

As a strong statement of political will and devotion to the EU integration process, it is especially significant that the Government relies on the state budget for implementation of the Plan’s priority activities, without waiting for donors and foreign support and funds.

In addition to showing political will, an additional argument is the fact that one of the problems characteristic for the accession process so far has been the lack of information on coordination, contracting and implementation of projects implemented by the Government or state institutions which are financed from the pre-accession funds of the European Union. Hiding the defined obligations from such programs, as well as information about their implementation, also makes it impossible to hold accountable the heads of institutions that use the EU funds. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the transparency of the EU funding by preparing and publishing the Government’s special reports on the implementation of these projects, thus enabling the public to monitor the dynamics of the implementation of these projects.

Once a month, the Government should prepare reports on the implementation of the action plan, i.e. recommendations from EC report, and inform the public about the results. Moreover, at each session of the Government, one of the key, if not the first item on the agenda, should be the ministers’ presentation of the fulfillment of obligations outlined in the plan. This is the only way to ensure continuous scrutiny and monitoring of the implementation of the plan, both by the Government, the Parliament and the general public, which would, eventually, lead to concrete results.

Such plan, besides concretising obligations and centralising responsibility, should also serve as a kind of self-assessment of the Government’s work and all their members, while remaining in theirs positions would strongly depend on the successful implementation of the obligations from the plan.

We remind you that the current mechanisms for monitoring the fulfilment of obligations from the European agenda have not proved to be particularly effective. Report on the implementation of the Government’s Working Program is lacking, and according to the data we collected, 63% of the legal proposals planned for the first three quarters of this year the Government did not send to the parliamentary procedure by mid-October. On the other side, semi-annual reports on overall activities within the integration process which the Government prepares and sends to the Parliament are not focused on the main identified problems and EC’s annual recommendations, (from one yearly report to another). These reports only address the obligations from the Accession Program, which is a longer-term Government document (currently in force 2021-2023). It only reports on what has been implemented, but does not show what has not been done, while it also contains information on peer review missions, meetings of state officials with EU officials, as well as other information that diverts focus from the obligations which the county failed to implement.

 Awareness of possible dismissal due to non-delivery of results would create additional pressure and prevent the neglect of Montenegro’s European obligations by certain departments, which was also recognised as a problem in the recently published Report of the European Commission.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

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