BRUSSELS – European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) adopted the Report on the 2019-2020 Commission Reports on Montenegro on Tuesday with 58 votes for, 4 against and 9 abstentions. The vote in the plenary is expected on 17 May.
The rapporteur Tonino Picula (S&D) said that, with this Report, the MEPs reaffirmed the European Parliament’s strong support to Montenegro’s EU accession process.
“We also encourage the country – as a front runner in the accession process, to continue delivering on its EU reform agenda, in particular in the area of the rule of law. High and growing public support for the EU membership should be an incentive for the Montenegrin stakeholders to work together towards fulfilling this common goal”, Picula said.
Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs commended Montenegro’s progress in the fight against organised crime and called on the authorities to accelerate reforms, particularly on the rule of law and fundamental rights, the judiciary, media freedom and the fight against corruption.
In the Committee’s report on the 2019-2020 Commission reports on Montenegro adopted on Tuesday, MEPs express concern about the tense political climate in the country. They underline that an open and constructive dialogue between all political and social stakeholders is fundamental in moving forward on the EU accession path.
MEPs are also worried about the highly polarised media landscape, in particular about the growing volume of disinformation. They call for European cooperation with Montenegro to address disinformation, and cyber and hybrid threats. Montenegro is increasingly vulnerable as its public debt grows, in particular to China, MEPs say.
Recent public opinion surveys show that an increasing number of Montenegrin citizens (76.6%) support the country becoming an EU member state, one of the highest rates of public support for the EU in the region, note MEPs.
Bilateral relations with Serbia have been marked by tensions, and MEPs insist that all bilateral disputes be resolved through inclusive and non-confrontational dialogue, while avoiding any form of foreign interference in domestic issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on Montenegro’s economy, with its GDP decreasing by 14.3% in 2020. MEPs therefore call on the authorities to use EU assistance effectively to mitigate the impact of the crisis. They also appeal to the EU to show its solidarity with Western Balkan countries in helping them to receive COVID-19 vaccines.