Limitations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration hindering access to the EU funds

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) recalls that Montenegro, respectively the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI) as the competent institution, repeatedly announced that by the end of 2011 it would receive accreditation, i.e. introduce the decentralized implementation system (DIS) for the management of EU funds and the transfer of ownership of the process from the European Commission to Montenegro. However, although the scheduled deadline was postponed several times, the plan is not completed and, still, there are limitations in the administrative capacity that are preventing it.

Such attitude and failure to meet the criteria set by the EU brings to the delay in the possibility of withdrawal of funds under components III and IV and this certainly causes damage to Montenegro. Due to administrative limits of the competent authority, which is primarily reflected in the non-strategic employment of persons that do not possess the expertise and experience to deal with these matters, Montenegro will not be able to withdraw the money for projects that would otherwise be at its disposal. CCE believes this is the result of a failure within strategic documents related to civil service reform, which are made without a functional analysis of the ministries and other competent state bodies.

Right to use the funds from the third and fourth components is enabled only to states that have been granted the candidate status for EU membership, after they adopt appropriate policy documents and decentralized implementation system (DIS). Apart from the first condition, Montenegro failed to fulfill all others, although this depends solely on us, on the MFAEI.

At this point, of particular importance for Montenegro would be the funds under component IV, which include support in the area of development of human resources covering: employment, education, scientific and research work. Funds from other components as well can be an important support in the further implementation of the required reforms towards the EU.

If we take into account the messages coming more often from the EU Delegation to Montenegro warning that further delays in the introduction of the DIS will lead to missed opportunities that are open to Montenegro, there is concern that the competent institutions have not enough seriously tackled the issue or do not have the necessary knowledge and skills to implement it. Furthermore, this opens the question of the ability of the Montenegrin administration to cope with a number of upcoming tasks and challenges that will follow in the negotiation process with the EU, especially if one takes into account the fact that we are not even able to achieve those conditions that bring us immediate financial and other benefits.

Ana Vujošević, Programme Coordinator