PODGORICA (Montenegro), October 14 (SeeNews) – Montenegro has made further progress towards a functioning market economy but still needs to fight corruption and organized crime, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
Montenegro applied for European Union membership in December last year and the Commission is expected to release its opinion on the application in the autumn of 2010, the EU executive said in a statement, outlining the key findings of its progress report on Montenegro.
The Interim Agreement on Trade and Trade-related matters between Montenegro and the EU, which took effect on January 1, 2008, is being smoothly implemented, the statement said.
“Montenegro needs to intensify its efforts so as to consolidate the rule of law area and in particular in the fight against corruption and organised crime which remain a serious problem,” the Commission said.
The Adriatic country also has to further strengthen its administrative capacity, which remains a major challenge and affects all efforts to efficiently pursue reforms.
“The global economic crisis has had a serious impact on Montenegro's previously well-performing economy (8.0% GDP growth in 2008), with its main industries (notably aluminium) and the banking sector being gravely affected,” the Commission said.
“However, the economy did not slip into recession,” it added. “The tourist industry seems to have performed better than expected and labour market indicators continued to improve.”
The Commission said Montenegro achieved good progress in consumer protection and research and in some areas of internal market and justice, freedom and security. It also made progress in free movement of capital, customs and taxation.