European money for the Montenegrin path to EU

Although there is a widespread public perception that non-governmental organizations have unlimited EU funds at their disposal, and this is frequently accompanied by manipulations and organized campaigns aimed at damaging the reputation of critically oriented NGOs, the dominant part of the funds is allocated to the institutions, as it was concluded in the study ‘’European money for the Montenegrin path to the EU” published by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), whose main author is Radoš Mušović.

The presented data, collected by the CCE team, provide a detailed insight into the structure of public calls that support projects of the civil society organizations, mainly NGOs with significant capacity, with a rough insight into funds contracted by the Government and other institutions in Montenegro.

The total amount allocated to Montenegrin NGOs for the period from 2012 to 2019, financed from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Civil Society Facility (CSF), the Media professionalism programme (MEDIA) and Cross-border programmes is EUR 18,181,784.40. From the same sources, the institutions withdrew EUR 9,862,545.51, international organizations and their branches in Montenegro EUR 3,900,367.03, and religious organizations EUR 701,640.00.

Precisely, the EU supported civil society organizations with EUR 15,094,368.70 through the EIDHR, CSF and MEDIA programme. Of that amount, EUR 3,346,613.55 was directly contracted with foreign organizations or their branches in Montenegro, and EUR 11,747,754.40 with Montenegrin civil society organizations. Within cross-border programmes (CBC and Interreg MNE-B&H-CRO), European funds provided Montenegrin stakeholders direct support of 17,551,969 EUR, whereby Montenegrin institutions withdrew 9,862,545.51 EUR and NGOs 6,434,030.00 EUR, then international organizations and their branches in Montenegro 553,753.48 EUR and religious organizations 701,640.00 EUR.

NGOs that received the largest amount of funding through these four programmes, were the Foundation for the Development of North – FORS Montenegro (1,704,776.00 EUR), followed by the Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector – MANS (1,400,925.81 EUR), Regional Development Agency for Bjelasica, Komovi and Prokletije (1,383,310.00 EUR), then the Centre for Civic Education – CCE (1,099,806.37 EUR), Center for Protection and Research of birds of Montenegro – CZIP (973,450.00 EUR), UNDP (966,380.00 EUR), Association for Democratic Prosperity – ZID (806,835), Fund for Active Citizenship – fAKT (816,999.00 EUR), Center for Monitoring and Research – CeMI (718,445.26 EUR) and the Council of Europe (700,000.00 EUR).

Based on data from the European Integration Office of the Government of Montenegro, within the framework of financial perspective for the period 2007-2013 (IPA I), the European Commission has allocated a total amount of EUR 235 million for Montenegro for project support to Montenegrin ministries. Also, over EUR 262 million (EUR 262,600,000.00) has been allocated within IPA II (2014-2020) by 2020. Within the Western Balkans Investment Framework (WBIF), including projects encompassed by the Berlin Process, about 170 million euros have been earmarked for Montenegro. From these three lines, based on signed contracts for implemented or still ongoing projects, the ministries of the Government of Montenegro effectively withdrew over half a billion euros (510,860,985.00 EUR) for the period from 2012 to October 2019. This should also include EUR 9,862,545.51 from cross-border cooperation programmes, which makes a total amount of EUR 520,723,530.

The Ministry of Justice has implemented or is still implementing projects worth EUR 28 million, the Ministry of Interior close to EUR 65 million, the Ministry of Finance EUR 22.6 million, the Ministry of Education about EUR 13 million, the Ministry of Science EUR 2.3 million, the Ministry of Economy around EUR 49 million, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs over EUR 120 million, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development almost EUR 28 million, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism over EUR 100 million, the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights over EUR 17 million. Former Ministry for Information Society and Telecommunications – later the Ministry of Public Administration, had i.e has EUR 19 million at their disposal, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare almost EUR 25 million, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs EUR 1.6 million and the Ministry of Health almost EUR 4 million.

When all contracts for civil society organizations (Montenegrin non-governmental organizations, international organizations and their branches, media, production companies, religious communities, trade unions), Government and its institutions are calculated, we come to the data that 95.8% of funds are withdrawn by the Government and its institutions and 4.2% by others, i.e. 95.8% by Government institutions, 3.35% by Montenegrin NGOs, 0.72% by international organizations based on public calls and 0.13% by religious organizations i.e. Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC).

CCE considers that these data should be used as a basis for argument based discussion on how European money allocated to Montenegro is spent, instead of the current practice of a one-sided and selective view of project support from European funds.

Maja MARINOVIĆ, Programme Associate