The European Council will open accession negotiations with Montenegro on June 29.
The General Affairs Council meeting held in Luxembourg on Tuesday welcomed the European Commission's recent report on Montenegro's progress in implementing reforms, with particular focus on rule of law and fundamental rights, especially the fight against corruption and organized crime.
The Council endorsed the Commission's assessment that Montenegro has achieved the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria, and in particular the political criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, to start accession negotiations.
In this regard, the Council underlined the particular importance it attaches to the area of the rule of law and fundamental rights, and urged Montenegro to tackle the issues of concern identified by the Commission in its latest progress report, especially the independence of the judiciary, fight against corruption and organized crime, and the need for Montenegro to step up its efforts in order to establish a solid track record in the course of the negotiations.
The Council invited Europol to present a report on the situation with regard to organized crime in Montenegro, and asked the Commission to ensure that this contribution is taken into account in the forthcoming screening reports.
In this light, the European Union will take account of the experience acquired from previous accession negotiations, notably in relations to the negotiating chapters on judiciary and fundamental rights and on justice, freedom and security. A new approach will be applied to both chapters, which will be tackled early in the negotiations to allow maximum time to establish the necessary legislation, institutions and solid track records of implementation.
by RTT Staff Writer
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