Montenegro on track for EU membership, say Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs
Committee : Foreign Affairs
Montenegro has made solid progress towards EU membership and buttresses regional stability. Yet it must do more to protect media freedom, women's rights and gender equality, said Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs voting on its 2012 progress report on Tuesday. EU accession talks with Montenegro began on 29 June 2012.
The committee commends Montenegro on the peaceful, free and fair conduct of parliamentary elections in October 2012, which gave the country's political leadership a fresh mandate to EU pursue accession aims. It also welcomes the strengthening of the Montenegrin Parliament's oversight role and praise the country for maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability.
Montenegro's progress sends a positive signal to other countries in the region, MEPs say in the resolution drafted by Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) and passed by 50 votes to one, with one abstention.
Focus on fundamental freedoms, rule of law and organised crime
MEPs welcome the EU's new negotiating stance which seeks to strengthen the rule of law by tackling fundamental freedoms, judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime early in the talks. Montenegro is the first candidate country to which this approach has been applied.
The committee urges the Montenegrin Parliament to underpin the judiciary's legal independence, integrity and accountability, and the country as a whole to step up the fight against corruption and the informal economy.
MEPs voice concern about police investigations of violent attacks against Montenegrin media representatives that have not resulted in any final verdict. They stress that safeguarding media freedom is a core EU principle and urge the Montenegrin authorities to enforce justice for the victims and ensure that the media are free from political interference. Montenegro's media environment is divided along political lines, MEPs note.
Violence against women
Montenegro must also do more to strengthen women's rights and gender equality, not least by campaigning against domestic violence against women, say MEPs.
Women are under-represented in Montenegro's Parliament and top decision-making positions, notes the text.
Plenary vote in March
The resolution is to be put to a vote by the whole House at the 11-14 March plenary session in Strasbourg.
In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)