Progress of the Government towards the EU is also measured by its position towards civil society

The clear visibility of issues in Montenegro in Brussels is indicated by the latest declaration of the Joint Consultative Committee of Montenegro and the European Union (JCC), adopted in December in Brussels, which includes a series of assessments highlighted in our public by the critically oriented part of the civil society.

This document, through the context of EU accession negotiations, focuses on numerous deficiencies of the Montenegro’s political, institutional, judicial and other frameworks, which the CCE has been warning about in the past period and has been the target of attacks by the highest decision-makers and their supporters.

The declaration underscores the burden of ongoing political tensions and polarization, the lack of inter-party dialogue on issues related to the negotiation process, and the lack of consensus on matters of national interest, the infiltration of party influences in public administration, with an emphasis on the necessity of reforms in several areas. Among other things, Montenegro is called upon to undertake the comprehensive reform of electoral legislation, as well as fundamental depoliticization, transparency, inclusiveness, and meritocracy in public administration. Additionally, it is urged to intensify efforts in implementing restrictive measures towards Russia, conduct population census by the end in an environment that allows citizens to express themselves freely, etc.

For years, CCE has empahasized, as acknowledged in this document, the need to strengthen administrative capacities for negotiations and the absorption of pre-accession funds, as well as the establishment of a functional negotiation structure, as numerous benefits that Montenegro can have from the accession process are currently being missed.

The document also positions political participation of women as an important issue, criticizing the low representation of women in leadership positions, especially at the highest positions, and the growing hate speech, threats, and cases of violence, not only against women, but also against journalists, activists, sexual minorities, etc., as consistently pointed out by the CCE. The condemnation of verbal attacks on activists and leaders from civil sector by the highest government officials is also of great importance, as highlighted in the latest EC Report. In this context, we also recall the continued support of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for the critically oriented civil society, especially the engagement of the EESC President, Oliver Röpke, who publicly supported Daliborka Uljarević, executive director of the CCE, when she was the targeted by the former Government of Dritan Abazović.

This document does not miss expressing concern about the illegal appointment of the director-general of the Public Service RTCG, contrary to a final court decision, as well as the prolonged wait for amendments to the set of media laws.

An important message is also sent to the new Government regarding cooperation with civil society, which must be based on a meaningful, timely and inclusive foundations, with the provision of legal improvements and support for the work of the civil sector.

The Joint Consultative Committee between the EU and Montenegro is a body formed within the framework of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, for the purpose of independent monitoring of Montenegro’s progress in the accession process and making recommendations to the Montenegrin Government and EU institutions. It consists of 12 members, six from each side, representing the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Montenegrin civil society.

Nikola Mirković, Programme Associate