Our ‘Country Digest’ special edition on Western Balkans continues. Next one in the series – Montenegro.
2018 brought an increased optimism to Western Balkans – and not only in terms of their relations with the EU. Recent developments and future plans set the scene for an era of peace, stability and prosperity in the region as well as a new dynamism towards EU integration.
In May 2018, the Commission proposed a budget of 14.5 BEUR for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for the period 2021-2027. The increased budget for IPA signals a strong EU commitment to the Enlargement policy and the European perspective of Western Balkans. IPA funding will assist formal and potential candidates fulfill the accession criteria. The new proposal includes greater flexibility, introducing a thematic and performance-based approach for funding.
On 26 June, EU and Western Balkan leaders launched officially the “Digital Agenda for Western Balkans”, an initiative to support the transition into a digital economy benefiting citizens and societies. The Agenda includes concrete actions in key-areas of digital transformation: cybersecurity and digitalization of industry; digital economy and society; research and innovation; broadband and connectivity. As a first step the EU will provide 30 MEUR in grants for broadband infrastructure.
The EU Council on 28 June reinforced the European integration of Western Balkans. EU leaders agreed to open accession negotiations with Albania and FYROM in June 2019. The Council commented positively on the progress made by all states in the region and highlighted the EU commitment to continue engagement at all levels, through increased assistance.
Next steps include:
v The annual connectivity package for 2018 already includes 190 MEUR grants in connectivity projects and 30 MEUR for preparing digital projects, while further elements will be presented later this year.
v The Austrian Presidency of the EU Council for the second term of 2018 has identified engagement with Western Balkans as of its 3 main priorities.
v The next Berlin Process Summit is schedule to be held in Poland in 2019.
v An EU-Western Balkans summit is scheduled to take place in the first half of 2020 during the Croatian Presidency.
Did you know about Montenegro & the EU?
- Accession negotiations opened in June 2012.
- 30 out of 35 negotiating chapters have been opened; out of which 3 provisionally closed.
- The EU is the largest provider of financial assistance to Montenegro.
- In total, 270.5 MEUR have been allocated to Montenegro for the period 2014-2020 under the IPA II programme. More than 152 MEUR have already been programmed in the period 2014-2017 to support reforms in key-sectors.
- Montenegro also benefits from support under the IPA multi-country and regional programmes. It participates in four cross-border cooperation programmes with neighbouring countries as well as in transational cooperation programmes with member states under the ERDF and the IPA Adriatic cross-border programme.
- Investments of 621 MEUR have been made by the European Investment Bank since 1999.
- Grants totaling 81 MEUR have been given through the EU Western Balkans Investment Framework.
- Montenegro participates in centrally managed programmes such as Erasmus+, H2020, Creative Europe (Culture and Media strands), EASI, COSME, Customs 2020 and Fiscalis 2020.