Direct connecting of NGOs from Montenegro in the field of environmental protection with actors from Brussels

Today, the study visit in Brussels of five NGOs from Montenegro in the field of environmental protection and improvement has concluded. Their projects are supported through the Civil Society Organization Program in Montenegro – from basic services to policy shaping – M’BASE, implemented by the Center for Civic Education (CCE) with partners, supported by the EU Delegation in Montenegro and the Ministry of Public Administration. They had numerous meetings with organizations dealing with environmental protection, climate change, and energy transition, as well as with the European Commission, to establish direct contacts with relevant EU stakeholders who advocate the green agenda from various perspectives.

As part of a carefully planned agenda, they first visited the office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation which is focused on climate change (Just Climate), where they were received by Reghina Dimitrisina, a policy advisor. This was followed by a meeting with Patrizia Heidegger, Deputy Secretary-General and Director for management, Sustainability, and Global Policies, as well as with Francesco Carlsson, senior legal advisor at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). They then met with Andrea Casamenti, Just transition policy coordinator at SOLIDAR, followed by Anthony Zacharzewski, president of the Democratic Society, and Sabien Leemans, Policy Coordinator for Biodiversity at the WWF European Policy Office. At CEE Bankwatch, Christophe Jost, Coordinator for EU Policies, and Dan Thomson, Biodiversity Coordinator, discussed with the delegation in the European Commission, they met with Madeline Laxton from the Directorate-General for Environment, who works in the department for bilateral and regional cooperation on environmental issues. They also met with Thomas Fröhlich, a policy analyst for climate and environment at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), as well as with the team of Dragana Milesunić, Director of the Nature Conservancy. The visit concluded with a meeting with Ambassador Petar Marković, Head of the Montenegro Mission to the EU.

The delegation consisted of: Azra Vuković, Executive Director of the NGO Green Home; Ratko Bataković, Executive Director of the Network for Rural Development of Montenegro; Milija Čabarkapa, Director of the NGO Eco Team; Jelena Marojević Galić, Program Manager for Environment and Policies at the NGO Parks of Dinarides, and Jelena Popović, Secretary-General of the Montenegrin Ecologists Society. Ivana Račić, Project Coordinator from the partner organization, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, accompanied them.

“Our organization focuses on rural development, and the topics we deal with are diverse, so this study visit confirmed our approach that all current issues must be integrated into the improvement of development in rural communities. Contacts established with organizations and institutions promoting green development and goals defined by the Green Agenda are particularly important to us. Apart from meeting with colleagues from the EU, I also highly value the additional networking with colleagues from other NGOs in Montenegro who were part of this program. I believe that by merging quality and capacity, we will contribute to the faster realization of goals, especially those related to our country’s readiness to join the EU. Our conversation with Ambassador Marković and his associates was also significant and constructive because we proposed that Montenegro host the next European Rural Parliament in autumn 2025, shared one of the participants of the study visit, Ratko Bataković.

This study visit to Brussels was an extremely important and useful event for our organization. We had the privilege to exchange experiences with European organizations and institutions, and to gain deeper insights into current topics and processes, such as the preparation of the new Green Deal and the Nature Restoration Law. I would also highlight the meetings with representatives of the European Commission, specifically the Directorate-General for Environment, as well as with the Ambassador of the Montenegro Mission to the European Union. We discussed Montenegro’s EU accession process and fulfilling obligations from Chapter 27, as well as strengthening the capacity and readiness of the state and institutions to absorb funds that will be available upon EU accession. This interaction enabled us to better understand the demands and expectations of the EU and strengthened our readiness for future steps in harmonizing our legislation with European standards in environmental protection,” evaluated Jelena Marojević Galić, a participant of the study visit.

The study visit was organized within the program of the Civil Society Organization Program in Montenegro – from basic services to policy shaping – M’BASE, implemented by CCE in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), the NGO Center for Bird Protection and Study of Montenegro (CZIP), and the NGO Politikon Network, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of European Affairs of the Government of Montenegro. The project is funded by the European Union and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration.

Monika Mrnjačević, Program Assistant