The eighth meeting of the Accession Conference with Montenegro at ministerial level was held today in Brussels to open negotiations on Chapter 11 - Agriculture and rural development and Chapter 19 - Social policy and employment. In addition, the Conference confirmed at ministerial level the opening of Chapter 12 - Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, and of Chapter 13 - Fisheries, which were considered at the Accession Conference with Montenegro at Deputy Level, held in Brussels on 30 June 2016.
The European Union delegation was led by Mr Miroslav Lajčák, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, on behalf of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The European Commission was represented by Mr Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. The Montenegrin delegation was led by Mr Aleksandar Andrija Pejović, Minister of European Affairs.
With today's Conference, out of a total of 35 negotiation chapters, 26 chapters have now been opened for negotiations of which 2 chapters have already been provisionally closed. Further Accession Conferences will be planned, as appropriate, in order to take the process forward in the first half of 2017. The accession negotiations were launched in June 2012.
Regarding the opening of negotiations on Chapter 11 - Agriculture and rural development and Chapter 19 - Social policy and employment, the Union has closely examined Montenegro's present state of preparations. On the understanding that Montenegro has to continue to make progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis in these chapters, the EU noted that there are benchmarks that need to be met for provisional closure of these chapters.
In addition, the EU underlined that it would devote particular attention to monitoring all specific issues mentioned in its common positions. Monitoring of progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis will continue throughout the negotiations. The EU will, if necessary, return to these chapters at an appropriate moment.
The benchmarks for each chapter opened are as follows:
Chapter 11 - Agriculture and rural development
Montenegro presents an implementation plan for the establishment of an integrated administration and control system (IACS) to be fully operational by the date of accession. The Plan has to cover all actions required for the full implementation of each separate component of the system and their integration, including a presentation of the current status of preparation, the future targets indicated in a timetable, a plan of legislation still to be adopted, precise budgetary and human resources requirements and identification of possible shortcomings and respective solutions. Montenegro demonstrates sufficient progress towards the setting-up of the IACS, including the establishment of the land parcel identification system (LPIS).
Montenegro presents an implementation plan for the setting up of a Paying Agency to be fully operational by the date of accession. Taking into account the standards as regards independence, reliability, accountability and financial rectitude, the Plan should include a presentation of the current status of preparation, the future targets indicated in a timetable, a plan of legislation still to be adopted, precise budgetary requirements, human resources needs including recruitment schedule and identification of possible shortcomings and respective solutions. Montenegro demonstrates sufficient progress towards the setting-up of this Paying Agency.
Chapter 19 - Social policy and employment
Montenegro amends the labour law and the law on safety and health at work in order to align its legislation in the fields of labour law and health and safety at work with the acquis, and demonstrates that adequate administrative structures and enforcement capacity will be in place by the time of accession to implement correctly the acquis on labour law and health and safety at work, particularly through strengthening of the labour inspection system.
Montenegro amends the laws on non-discrimination and equality between women and men in employment and social policy in order to align its legislation in these fields with the acquis, and demonstrates that adequate administrative structures, particularly the required equality body, the Ombudsman, administrative and enforcement capacities will be in place by the time of accession.
Montenegro strengthens administrative capacities to ensure effective implementation and effective enforcement of all legislation and policy frameworks in the areas of employment and social policies, including planning and operational capacities, to ensure the effective dialogue between social partner organisations as well as to ensure future management of the ESF (European Social Fund).