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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article13 December 2021Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations

Remarks by Commissioner Várhelyi at the press conference after the IGC with Montenegro

Olivér Várhelyi

I am very pleased that we held today already the second political Intergovernmental Conference with Montenegro under the revised methodology.

I would like to thank the Slovenian Presidency for all their efforts and Member States’ strong dedication shown to the enlargement and engagement in this process.

Today’s meeting sends a strong political signal of the EU’s commitment to Montenegro’s EU accession. It provided us with an opportunity for an open political dialogue on key reforms, which should help Montenegro make progress in the accession process.

This political discussion is an important element of the revised methodology. I firmly believe that on this basis, we revived the accession process by making it more predictable, more credible, more dynamic and subject to stronger political steering, based on objective criteria and rigorous conditionality. 

Montenegro has already opened all chapters, and our discussions therefore focused on the rule of law area which will continue to determine the overall pace of negotiations. 

Today we re-confirmed that the priority for further overall progress in the accession negotiations - and before moving towards the next stage, the provisional closure of other chapters - remains the fulfilment of the rule of law interim benchmarks set under chapters 23 and 24.

Today’s meeting provided Montenegro with detailed guidance for this purpose. I was pleased to hear Montenegro’s commitment to achieve this objective and Montenegro’s plans to address the outstanding issues under both rule of law chapters. 

It is now key for all relevant actors in Montenegro, government, all Members of the Parliament and the judiciary, to turn this commitment into tangible results. This is essential for progressing further in the accession process, an objective supported by the overwhelming majority of Montenegrin citizens. 

On the Commission side we will continue to do all we can to speed up Montenegro’s pace of negotiations and to support its EU perspective, for the benefit of Montenegrin citizens.

One last note - an important element that Montenegro has fulfilled all the technical conditions to join the EU Digital COVID Certificate and I hope that as of Christmas the citizens of Montenegro will be able to travel to the EU and the EU citizens to Montenegro with more ease.

Thank you!