To determine responsibility for the loss of EU funds for Montenegro

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) points out that the news that the Government of Montenegro failed to create a single quality project that would be included in the financial package of 2.1 billion euros allocated by EU for 14 projects in the transport, energy, environment, human capital and private sector in the Western Balkans represents another example of incompetence, lack of dedication and lack of quality staff within the Government at the various levels.

Due to the negligence and unprofessionalism of the members of this Government, citizens are directly harmed, quality of their life is limited and funds that could have been obtained as support from the EU for these areas are taken away.

The CCE reminds that the investment beneficiaries are Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a total of 2.1 billion euros, and Montenegro is the only in the regiona that did not submit any project that fulfilled standard to be supported.

The CCE has previously warned that European integration is not a priority for this Government, and now we are receiving numerous confirmations of that.

We got the most negative Non-paper Report regarding Chapters 23 and 24 that Montenegro has received so far, which practically states that in Brussels they do not see there is longer any political will to implement the European reform agenda.

This is accompanied by a serious warning about poor absorption capacity for EU funds. This is not surprising considering that institutional memory has not been preserved, nor has there been optimization, professionalization, and depoliticization of public administration. Aggressive party-based employment, which has marginalized or forced to leave a limited number of professionals in the state administration, now also results in direct negative financial effects in terms of accessing EU funds for much-needed investments in important development areas in Montenegro.

All this further undermines the already damaged credibility of the state of Montenegro.

CCE appeals to the new Government of Montenegro, which should be formed as soon as possible, to prioritize these issues and take necessary measures, to put an urgent review/evaluation of project applications, addressing all their shortcomings, and determining the responsibility of those whose actions leave Montenegro without significant financial support from the EU. Establishing clear line of responsibility can influence on the prevention of similar losses of funds and damage to the reputation of the state in the future.

Incompetence and negligence and/or open hostile intent of a few individuals must not take precedence over what is the Montenegrin public interest, and what could be huge opportunities for overall social growth and development. It is also important for citizens to know who is responsible for such omissions and that they bear political and other corresponding responsibility.

Milica Zindović, Programme Associate