Montenegro sufficiently competitive for joining smoothly the European Union’s internal market?

We are pleased to announce that our company has started implementing the new project “Increasing the capacity of institutions harmonising and implementing of EU acquis in the area of Competitiveness and Innovation” (EU4CI project) with a budget of nearly 1 mln EUR in Montenegro.

The Stabilization and Association Agreement gives a clear European perspective to Montenegro. The country’s accession negotiation with the EU has been going on since June 2012, and Montenegro continued to remain on a steady track despite two major political transitions in 2020 and 2022 respectively.

Alignment with the rules of the internal market is a central cluster of requirements, which would allow Montenegro to remain competitive putting up with the market forces and competition. These rules are organized in a few categories corresponding to several chapters under the accession process.

Progress in these areas is not only essential to comply with the EU accession negotiations, but to increase competition and possibilities for companies in Montenegro and abroad and to allow consumers to benefit from the results of increased competition. Firstly, setting up of the Point of Single Contact is needed to ensure an easy start for businesses in the services market of Montenegro, and the benefits of cutting red tape will be seen even in the short run. Secondly, further development of standards is crucial as it will allow Montenegrin companies to better compete in foreign markets. Finally, granting State aid could be beneficial to the economy if important objectives are supported, such as regional development, environmental protection, promotion of R&D and innovation or activities of SMEs.

The EU4CI project is a direct response to the need for significant technical support for the country to raise its competitiveness and innovation. The 30 months project aims to support the development of further administrative capacity and level of alignment to the EU acquis in the areas of services, standardization, accreditation, competition and state aid, thus allowing Montenegro to fulfil the accession criteria of relevant negotiation chapters (Chapter 1 “Free movement of goods”, Chapter 3 “Right of establishment and freedom to provide services”, Chapter 7 “Intellectual property law”, Chapter 8 “Competition policy”, Chapter 9 “Financial services”, Chapter 28 “Consumer and Health Protection”).

“The project aims to assist the government in a holistic manner for further aligning with the EU Internal Market acquis and for the introduction of corresponding good practices. By establishing of a one-stop-shop (Point of Single Contact), we aim to simplify the preparatory work for service providers with access to information on national rules, formalities and procedures, thus giving an equal chance of success to all. By raising the administrative capacities of the competent authorities in their control functions such as the inspections, standardization and accreditation bodies, we hope to further remove unjustified barriers and facilitate the trade of goods between Montenegro and the EU member states on the path to accession. We aim to assist the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism to further develop competition and state aid legislation, and to assist the Agency for Protection of Competition to further enforce competition and state aid rules, thus ensuring a level-playing field for all domestic and foreign economic operators in the Montenegrin market for smoother integration in the EU internal market,” emphasized Mr Yngve Engstroem, Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.

The EU4CI project had its official kick-off in Podgorica on 24 June 2022.

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