October 11, 2019 - Croatian MEP Tonino Picula has been named reporter for the European Parliament for Montenegro, which has been in the EU candidate status since 2010 and began accession negotiations in June 2012, the MEP office announced on Thursday.
"Of all the candidate countries, Montenegro has moved farthest in its negotiations with the European Union, and as a reporter for the European Parliament for Montenegro, I will advocate strengthening its ties with the Union to become a full member as soon as possible. It is of strategic interest for Croatia to have other Union members at all its borders. Our experience and know-how, which we gained as the last country to become an EU member, should be transferred to the countries in the region, and I believe that in Podgorica, we will have the right partners on their path to the Union," Picula said during the appointment.
Picula stressed that the endorsement of Joseph Borrell by the EP as a candidate for European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, who placed the Western Balkan countries at the top of his term of office, further strengthens their European perspective.
In its negotiations with Montenegro, the Union emphasizes the rule of law, an independent judiciary, freedom of the media, and a more effective fight against crime and corruption. Chapters 23 (Justice and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom, and Security) are priorities for this country. Currently, most of the 83 provisional benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24, which relate to improving the legislative and institutional framework, have been met.
Montenegro has opened a total of 32 of the 35 negotiating chapters, and three are provisionally closed. The EC report for 2018 reveals a lack of confidence in the electoral system. Still, on the other hand, Montenegro is making moderate progress in the judiciary and is making the same progress in public administration concerning rationalization and depoliticization, where further efforts are needed, statement.