BRUSSELS — Montenegro must ensure operational functionality of the Constitutional Court and revoke amendments to the Law on the President, said Ana Pisonero, Spokesperson for Enlargement, Neighbourhood and International Partnerships in the European Commission.
All political actors should restrain from further provocative acts, the statement added in light of the protests in Montenegro which followed the parliamentary session held on 12 December.
🇲🇪 has missed another opportunity to appoint Constitutional Court (CC) members & bring to an end the long standing institutional crisis. A fully functional CC composed of competent members is key for 🇲🇪 to safeguard its citizens’ fundamental rights & move forward on its 🇪🇺 path
— AnaPisonero (@APisoneroECSpox) December 12, 2022
Yesterday the Parliament of Montenegro failed once again to appoint judges to the vacant positions in the Constitutional Court, prolonging the blockage of this institution which lasts from 13 September.
“A fully functional CC composed of competent members is key for Montenegro to safeguard its citizens’ fundamental rights & move forward on its EU path,” Pisonero stated. She added that a new call for candidates to the Constitutional Court should be organized without delay, through a proper and inclusive selection process.
Constitutional Court of Montenegro has been in a state of institutional blockage due to its lack of quorum to make decisions, with only three out of seven members appointed. The parliament voted on 12 December to fill the vacant spots, but none of the candidates received enough votes.
According to Danas, in the first round, the four candidates needed two-third majority approval to be appointed, which amounts for 54 out of 81 votes. In the second round, the candidates needed three-fifths majority or 49 votes, but they weren’t able to reach that number either due to the largest opposition party Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) boycotting yesterday’s session.
Another problematic voting of yesterday’s parliamentary session was the one on amendments to the Law on the President, which adopted a mechanism for the parliament to take over part of the jurisdiction of the head of state in proposing the mandate for forming the new government and in principle enables the parliamentary majority to choose their candidate.
Pisonero pointed out that the amendments were adopted against the recommendation of Venice Commission not to adopt the law “until the CC has become fully operational and able to assess its constitutionality after its adoption.”
This is the second time parliament adopted said amendments, since the first time President Milo Đukanović from DPS returned the law to the Parliament on 7 November.
According to the Constitution of Montenegro, the President is obliged to sign the law if the parliament approves it the second time.
In the statement released on 11 December, a day before the controversial parliamentary session took place, the Democratic Party of Socialists accused the parliamentary majority of being “unconstitutional” and “blocking the European path of Montenegro,” which is why DPS decided not to vote on the candidates.
“Nevertheless, bearing in mind the depth of the institutional crisis, we have shown our readiness to vote for one candidate if the parliamentary majority withdraws the unconstitutional Law on the President, and if the date for extraordinary parliamentary elections is set,” DPS stated.
Since their conditions weren’t fulfilled, the largest opposition party in Montenegro boycotted the voting on the candidates for Constitutional Court and called the citizens to protest.
“We invite the citizens to express their opinion tomorrow with a mass response regarding the intention of the unconstitutional parliamentary majority to lead the country into anarchy, and to stand dignified, civilized, but also decisively in the protection of the constitutional order,” the DPS statement read.
The Chair of the Delegation for Montenegro Vladimír Bilčík and Standing Rapporteur for Montenegro Tonino Picula issued a joint statement on 13 December in which they expressed regret about the latest political developments in Montenegro and urged “all political stakeholders in the country to rise above their divisions and to restore the functionality of the country’s democratic institutions in line with constitutional principles as a matter of absolute urgency.”
They added that the adoption of amendments by the ruling majority of 41 MPs challenges the Montenegro’s EU path and its status of a front-runner in EU integration. Bilčík and Picula called for a swift termination of the Government’s mandate and new parliamentary elections.
European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi stated on Twitter that EU called for all political actors in Montenegro to “take urgent action to ensure the operational functionality of the Constitutional Court” and added that Montenegro must respect the decisions of the Venice Commission in order to move on its European path.