Parliament of Montenegro has a key role in monitoring the course of accession negotiations with the EU and harmonizing the legislation with the EU acquis. Also, Article 15 of the Constitution of Montenegro (Official Gazette of Montenegro, no. 01/07) stipulates that the Parliament shall decide on the manner of accession to the European Union.
Decision on amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Montenegro (Official Gazette of the Republic of Montenegro no. 51/06 and 66/06 and Official Gazette of Montenegro no. 88/09, 80/10, 39/11 and 25/12) is adopted in May 2012, at the Fourth Session of the First Ordinary (Spring) Session of the 24th Convocation of the Parliament of Montenegro with the aim of strengthening the role of the Parliament of Montenegro in the process of the EU integration, including the adequate oversight of the Parliament over the activities of the Government and control of harmonization of laws with the EU acquis. Instead of earlier Committee on International Relations and European Integration, two Committees are formed by this Decision, the Committee on International Relations and Emigrants and the Committee on European Integration, which represents the key parliamentary body in monitoring negotiations with the EU. Committee on European Integration is responsible for monitoring accession negotiations of Montenegro to the EU, control and assessment of the course of negotiations and providing opinion and guidelines on behalf of the Parliament of Montenegro on prepared negotiating positions, considering information on negotiation process and considering and providing opinion on issues that arise during the negotiation, as well as considering and assessing operation of negotiation team. Also, competencies of certain number of committees are extended by amendments to the Rules of Procedure and thus seven line committees (Committee on Political System, Justice and Administration, Committee on Economy, Finance and Budget, Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms, Gender Equality Committee, Committee on Tourism, Agriculture, Ecology and Spatial Planning, Committee on Education, Science, Culture and Sports and Committee on Health, Labor and Social Welfare) within its competence monitor and asses harmonization of Montenegrin law with the EU acquis communautaire and based on the report of the Government, monitor and asses law enforcement, especially the laws and obligations arising from it that are harmonized with the EU acquis.
Secretaries of line committees, that is, their services, prepare briefing paper for every proposal of the law considered at the meeting which contains the assessment of harmonization of the proposal of the law with the EU acquis based on the table of concordance review prepared by the Government, as well as through comparing with other relevant information and documents set up in the accession negotiation process.
In addition, representatives of the Service of the Parliament, as members, participate in all working groups for preparation of negotiations by negotiation chapters, formed by the Government. This is the first time that the parliament of a certain candidate country for membership participates in the screening stage, i.e. the stage of analytic review and assessment of harmonization of national legislation with the EU acquis communautaire. Thus, employees of the Parliament have the possibility to acquire detailed insight into the overall acquis of the European Union, by negotiation chapters, with which national legislation should be harmonized, including information on new and planned regulations of the European Union and to have complete overview of present level of harmonization of Montenegrin legislation with the primary and secondary EU acquis, as well. Acquired knowledge and information are very valuable and useful in providing professional support to members of the parliament in performing their legislative and control duty.
In March 2013, Collegium of the President of Montenegro adopted Action Plan for strengthening legislative and control role of the Parliament of Montenegro in 2013, which, inter alia, envisaged activities related to the role of the Committee on European Integration primarily, as well as cooperation of this Committee with line committees aimed at adopting better legislation and more successful course of accession negotiation:
Considering draft negotiating positions by chapters at the meetings of the Committee on European Integration and providing opinion and suggestions, as well as, if necessary, holding meetings in order to receive information on preparation of negotiating positions from negotiation structures of the Government; the Committee will define a model of participation of line committees members at these meetings.
Committee on European Integration will organize meetings at least once quarterly, where it will consider the progress in accession negotiation in every negotiation chapter for which negotiations have begun and where, if necessary, interested members of line committees will be invited.
Committee on European Integration, in cooperation with line committees, will organize thematic forums on certain negotiation chapters, in the form of public debates, round tables, etc., where professional and other interested public would have an opportunity to state its opinions and suggestions prior to determining negotiating positions and considerations by the Committee.
Committee on European Integration will regularly consider reports on implementation of obligations from SAA and quarterly reports on overall activities.
Collegium of the President of the Parliament of Montenegro adopted Legislative Work Plan of the Parliament of Montenegro on 19th March 2013, that is, the review of the proposal of laws planned for 2013. At the same time, this document represents a plan of harmonizing the legislation of Montenegro with the EU acquis communautaire. The Plan is drawn up on the basis of the Work Program of the Government for 2013. as well as the Activities Plan on fulfilling recommendations from the Report of the European Commission on the progress of Montenegro for 2012.
Administrative capacities in the light of the EU integration
Service of the Parliament developed database included in tables of concordance which can be searched both on Montenegrin and English language, as well as the base where screening lists and supporting documents of importance during the screening process could be inserted in.
Project of professional support to the Service of the Parliament of Montenegro was realized in the period between September 2011 and June 2012, in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Parliament to monitor proposed laws and their harmonization with the EU acquis. Trainings in the field of legislation harmonization and monitoring the impact assessment of regulations are realized within the Cooperation Program between the Parliament of Montenegro and Westminster Foundation for Democracy.
The Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Montenegro regulates cooperation of the Parliament with the parliaments of the EU and European Parliament, including participation of delegations of parliamentary committees at joint meetings of committees in charge for different fields which are regularly organized in the country presiding over the EU. Also, members of the parliament and employees in the Service of the Parliament participate in activities organized within the program of support of European Parliament for countries of Western Balkans and Turkey. Parliament of Montenegro was a host of the regional workshop in June 2012 where it was discussed about the role of the parliament in the process of negotiation, and which was organized in cooperation with the European Parliament. High level meeting was held a year before, which was organized in cooperation with the National Council for European Integration and European Commission, and which was, in addition to Members of the Parliament, attended by high officials of EC Directorate for Enlargement and ministers in charge for seven priority fields, earlier assessed as key fields for opening the negotiations.
Extracts from the European Commission Montenegro Progress Report for 2012
As it was stated in the European Commission Progress Report for 2012 “New Rules of Procedure regulates that parliamentary committees are in charge of monitoring the implementation and harmonization of new legislation with the EU acquis communautaire in the fields of their competence. Their capacities and expertize should be further strengthened in that regard… The Parliament continued active legislative activity, including certain number of fields related to European integration, such as prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism and revision of resources from the EU Funds. As a whole, progress has been achieved in terms of functioning of the Parliament and its legislative and control role in issues related to the rule of law. Implementation of recently adopted election legislation has begun and administrative and professional capacities of the Parliament have been strengthened. Transparency has been enhanced and standalone committees are envisaged for European integration and fight against corruption. It is necessary to increase efforts taken with the aim of enhancing legislative and control capacities of the Parliament.”
Parliament of Montenegro and the EU – chronological overview
The Parliament established the Committee on European Integration in October 2003, by special decision, as permanent working body in charge for initiating harmonization of legislation with the EU acquis. By adoption of the new Rules of Procedure of Montenegro in 2006, the Committee on European Integration was renamed in the Committee on International Relations and European Integration, and its competencies and membership have been extended.
With the Declaration on association adopted in 2005, the Parliament invited the Government to “submit to the Parliament the report on implemented activities and obligations of Montenegro with regard to the EU stabilization and association process at least once in three months”. Parliament of Montenegro adopted the Resolution on fulfilling the obligations of Montenegro within Stabilization and Association Agreement on 27th December 2007, determining the model of regular monitoring report on implementation of the Agreement, submitted to the Parliament by the Government. Parliament of Montenegro adopted Resolution on the need to accelerate the process of integration of Montenegro into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures on 3rd October 2008.
Parliament of Montenegro adopted Decision on establishing National Council for European Integration (NCEI) on 19th March 2008, as strategic and advisory body aimed at contributing to better coordination and oversight of Stabilization and Association Agreement and monitoring future accession negotiations of Montenegro to the EU.
Amendments to the Rules of Procedure from 2012 regulate that the Committee on International Relations and European Integration is divided to the Committee on International Relations and Emigrants and the Committee on European Integration, and competencies of line committees have been extended to monitoring the harmonization of Montenegrin laws with the EU acquis communautaire. At the same time, NCEI is abolished.