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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Montenegro gears up for EU integration: Growth plan and reforms at the forefront

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The government is already actively preparing necessary reforms to make the best use of funds from the Growth Plan, announced Prime Minister Milojko Spajić, adding that Montenegro has what it takes to attract numerous investors.

At the sixth Investment Summit of the Western Balkans organized by the EBRD, attended by Spajić, it was concluded that the future of the region lies in the European Union (EU), making it important for the region to integrate into the Union through the Growth Plan before formal accession.

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“Through investments, based on reforms and strengthening the rule of law, and promoting regional cooperation, the EU wants to accelerate the enlargement process. This encourages investors to invest much more in the countries of the region. Therefore, it is important for Montenegro and other Western Balkan countries to seize the right moment to join the European family,” the Government statement said.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said that enlargement is a priority for EU leaders and they are working hard to prepare for new members.

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“Your future is within the EU. We know that we need to accelerate the process, so both sides need to be ready,” Michel said.

He assessed that enlargement is a challenging process that brings both benefits and obligations.

“Strengthening the rule of law and democratic values is required, as well as being economically ready for the EU. Therefore, we propose the Growth Plan as support and a signal of our complete commitment to the gradual integration of the region. This will strengthen integration, but also the economy, as there is potential to double the economy of the Western Balkans through this plan,” Michel said.

Oliver Varhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, also emphasized the importance of the Growth Plan.

“This is a new moment for EU enlargement for the Western Balkans, and we have marked four foundations as crucial – bringing the Western Balkans closer to the single market, strengthening regional economic integration, accelerating fundamental reforms, and increasing financial support,” Varhelyi said.

According to him, these measures will enable the Western Balkans to feel the benefits before officially joining the EU.

Spajić explained why Montenegro should be the choice of credible investors.

“The fact that we are a credible NATO partner is very important for the security of investors, as well as the fact that we use the euro, so all our assets, obligations, and income are in euros and fully protected. Thirdly, we are fiscally responsible both within EU criteria and in terms of debt to gross domestic product (GDP) and fiscal deficit,” Spajić stated.

He added that in the next six years, there will be significant infrastructure projects, including highways and railways, with a focus on the development of airports and the Port of Bar.

Montenegro, as he pointed out, is progressing rapidly in EU integrations, especially in the field of the rule of law.

“What sets us apart is also one of the lowest energy prices in Europe, and very importantly, we have a secure supply, especially of electrical energy. We have enormous potential to develop capacity for renewable energy sources. Through our maritime connection with Italy, there is room to influence the price of electricity in the market, as you produce it in the Balkans, in Montenegro, and sell it where one of the highest prices in Europe is. These are great opportunities for businesses in Montenegro,” Spajić believes.

He also emphasized the importance of establishing an international Arbitration Court, which will ensure efficient resolution of potential disputes, thereby enhancing security for investors in Montenegro.

Responding to questions from potential investors, Spajić highlighted Montenegro’s desire for good relations with all neighbors, which will be confirmed through numerous projects. They aim to connect the region and create a link between Europe and Asia.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will continue to provide significant support for the Western Balkans in terms of development, especially in the field of green transition, according to the President of the financial institution, Odile Renaud-Basso, who said they look forward to cooperation with the European Commission (EC) and the countries of the region in implementing the EU Growth Plan.

“This initiative has the potential to change things in the region, to accelerate projects and much-needed reforms. The goal is for the Western Balkan countries to be implemented in the EU before accession. We promote the integration of the region through supporting multiple intergovernmental projects, which will bring great benefits to the region, countries, and investors,” Renaud-Basso said.

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