What the Unofficial Report on Chapters 23 and 24 Shows: Proactivity Requests by the European Union as a Constant

The unofficial working document of the European Commission for chapters 23 and 24 additionally grounds a new approach in Montenegrin accession negotiations, which emphasises the requirement of results and proactive role of institutions.

Earlier, Institute Alternative called for the Government to publish this document. Therefore, we strongly support the decision of the Ministry of European Affairs to contribute to the transparency of the EU negotiation by publishing the current state of affairs in Chapter 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and Chapter 24 (justice, freedom and security).

Document publishing is particularly important having in mind that the next regular report on Montenegro, that covers all the chapters, will be published in spring 2018.

If the ratings from the published working paper are observed through a wider lens of reporting on Montenegro, and compared to the ratings from the previous European Commission reports, there is a more comprehensible approach when it comes to reforms that Montenegro is expected to implement.

“Proactivity“ is a predominantly recurring word in European Commission Reports, and it stands for moving the focus from institution building and legislative activity, which dominated the earlier stages of the EU integration, to institutional results and implementation of legislation in practice.

A more proactive role of independent institutions, the establishment of which is mostly done, should be put in focus, within which these institutions “have secured necessary funds and are protected of any influence and are motivated to fully exercise their authority“ – the document states.

Proactivity is particularly demanded from the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, as well as prom the Police and the Prosecution Offices during investigations.

The same was demanded from these institutions in previous reports.

Already in 2014 there was a warning that previous institutions for prevention of corruption should be strengthened in order to be more proactive, as a prerequisite to the establishment of a special Agency.

However, three years upon this request, the ratings on insufficient proactivity of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption are repeated.

The Agency must act independently and be proactive. The integrity of its administration and staff is key“, the report states.

Similarly, the 2015 report emphasised the necessity of a stronger and more proactive cooperation between the then founded Special Prosecution Office and future special police department, the Central Bank and other institutions competent for tax, money laundering prevention and customs.

According to the ratings from the working document, there is no tangible progress in this area.

“The comprehensive training on the concept of the police run by intelligence work was conducted, including the regional level, but so far it has not resulted in significant increase of proactive investigation. A great number of investigations in organised crime cases are still started based on incoming tips“, it is emphasised.

Upon publishing the latest European Commission Report on Montenegro, Institute Alternative pointed out that since the start of negotiations in 2012, Montenegro showed the lowest level of progress in chapters 23 and 24, which precedes the rates of “backsliding“ and “lack of progress“.

The unofficial working document also emphasises that the influence of legislative institutional reforms is still not tangible, despite certain progress in the areas of high level corruption prevention and certain forms of organised crime.

The track record, that serves as a key indicator of progress, is also rated as “limited“.

Milena Milošević

Public Policy Researcher

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