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EU-Montenegro Conference Unfreezes Membership Talks

The European Union has officially resumed Montenegro's EU membership negotiations following the adoption of the IBAR report at the Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels

In a landmark decision on 26th June in Brussels, the Intergovernmental Conference between the European Union (EU) and Montenegro adopted the IBAR report, lifting a long-standing freeze on Montenegro’s EU membership negotiations. This move signifies Montenegro’s renewed progress after a decade-long stall in its accession process.

Montenegro, engaged in EU membership talks for 12 years, achieved a significant breakthrough with the adoption of the IBAR report, ending years of negotiation stagnation. Alongside the IBAR, the Montenegrin government was presented with final benchmarks for closing chapters that would lead to the conclusion of the accession process.

Milojko Spajić, Hadja Lahbib and Oliver Varhelyi

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib highlighted the determination of Montenegrin citizens and authorities to accelerate integration during her recent visit to Podgorica. EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi emphasized that the conference underscored the EU’s readiness for further expansion and called for sustained political will from Montenegro to continue on its European path.

Varhelyi noted that Hungary, set to assume the EU presidency, has ambitious plans for enlargement. He anticipates that Montenegro will close a significant number of chapters in the next six months.

Oliver Varhelyi

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milojko Spajić celebrated this milestone, noting that Montenegro had waited 11 years to achieve this result, with no progress seen since June 2017. He forecasted significant technical advancements in the next 18 to 24 months and urged parliamentary support for the common goal of EU accession.

Spajić concluded that the positive news extends beyond Montenegro, benefiting the entire Western Balkans region. With Serbia’s negotiations stalled due to its stance on Russian sanctions, Montenegro is now seen as the most advanced candidate in the EU accession process.

Prior to the conference, the European Commission confirmed that Montenegro had met interim standards, achieved compliance, and progressed in implementing EU legal standards in chapters 23 and 24. European diplomats now expect Montenegro to make further progress in closing new chapters in the latter half of the year, contingent on continued governmental efforts to meet conditions.

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