The foundation of the European Union, a unique economic and political partnership covering most of Europe with 27 member states, was laid in 1951 when six countries (Belgium, Federal Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Luxembourg) founded the European Coal and Steel Community.
The European Union has gone through six enlargement periods from the past to the present. Various states joined the European Union during these six enlargement periods. The enlargement of the Union first started with Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland gaining member state status in 1973, and finally, Croatia became a member of the European Union in 2013. However, it should not be forgotten that, as there are many countries still striving to become a member of the European Union, there are also states (Iceland) that have withdrawn their application to the Union, and even the existence of states that leave the European Union voluntarily (United Kingdom).
Being a member of the European Union involves a complicated procedure that does not happen overnight. In June 1993, the European Council stated that all candidate countries must meet a set of conditions such as the accession criteria or the free market economy, also known as the Copenhagen Criteria, a stable democracy, the rule of law and the adoption of all European Union laws.
In the present case, there are five countries that are candidates for EU membership: Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidate countries. In this article, we will try to analzse the relations between Montenegro and the European Union.
Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia-Montenegro, the only remaining unified state of the former Yugoslavia, as a result of the referendum held on 21 May 2006. Montenegro, which started to be recognized by many European Union member states with the declaration of independence, signed a Visa Liberalization and Readmission Agreement with the European Union on 1 January 2008. Montenegro applied for the European Union candidacy in December 2008. The European Commission gave a positive opinion to Montenegro’s application in November 2010 and stated that Montenegro has made significant progress in opening negotiations.
When the dates showed December 17, 2010, the European Council officially declared Montenegro as a candidate country. Montenegro, which gained the status of a candidate country, started negotiations for accession to the European Union in June 2012 with the decision of the Council. Until 11 November 2017, 30 of the 35 negotiation chapters have been opened including “Chapter 23-Judiciary and Fundamental Rights” and “Chapter 24-Justice, Freedom and Security” and three chapters have been provisionally closed. These are “Chapter 25-Science and Research”, “Chapter 26-Education and Culture” and “Chapter 30-External Relations.”
After the opening of “Chapter 17-Economic and Monetary Policy” and “Chapter 27-Environment” in 2018, Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković announced that the opening of the “Chapter 8-Competition Policy” which is the last chapter, was approved by the European Commission in June 2020. Thus, Montenegro has become the closest country to European Union membership among candidate countries.
Relations between the European Union and Montenegro are carried out through the Permanent Representation of Montenegro to the European Union in Brussels and the European Union Delegation to Montenegro in Podgorica. It should not be forgotten that Montenegro is currently using the Euro as its currency and has been a NATO member since June 2017.