AuthorCerovic, Drazen
  1. Introduction

    Montenegro is an independent post-Yugoslav multi-ethnic state in the Western Balkan region of Southeastern Europe, with a coast on the Adriatic Sea and bordering Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. Podgorica is the capital and the largest city, while Cetinje has the status of the Old Royal Capital.

    Classified by the World Bank as an upper middle-income country, Montenegro is a member of the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and NATO.

    On the basis of an independence referendum, Montenegro declared independence in 2006, and after adopting a new constitution in 2007 it became 'Montenegro--an independent and sovereign state, with the republican form of rule; a civil, democratic, ecological and state of social justice, based on the rule of law' (Constitution of Montenegro, 2007).

  2. European integration and public administration reform

    From the perspective of analytical methodology, the issue of administrative reform in Montenegro and its relevance to Montenegro's EU accession process needs to be viewed in the context of a general theoretical and conceptual framework. There is an abundance of literature and scientific sources on administrative reform in general and, in particular, on administrative reform in European countries. A short overview of recent publications on such topic(s) shows a variety of approaches and recommendations on this issue, including implications of the administrative reform process for Central and East European countries, shortcomings and successful implementation of reform strategies and action plans, policy 'lessons learned', etc. (1)

    The following quote illustrates the dilemmas regarding the general theoretical and conceptual framework of administrative reform:

    'Since much of the literature on administrative reform has been devoted to public administration, most examples and illustrations are drawn from the public sector. In contrast to many other areas of administrative theory, where analysis is based almost exclusively on business practices, the general analysis of administrative reform is more applicable on public administrative reform. (...) Successful reform in the administrative system may set in motion a whole series of chain events that lead to other kinds of reform, and those reforms in turn may indicate the need for further administrative reforms' (Caiden, 2011, p. 11).

    On the other hand, the following quote illustrates the issues regarding administrative reform in the context of EU integration:

    'European Administrative Space (EAS) has been recognised as a unique concept in the late nineties to meet the needs of EU enlargement as a complement to the acquis communautaire in the field of public administration and the improvement of national administrative law and administrative capacity. (...) Today, EAS represents more than that, since it incorporates fundamental principles to be followed by all administrators globally. EAS is an important tool in the absence of a formal EU acquis in the field of public administration, but leads to a necessary integration of EU values, goals, activities and methods to enable effective and equitable implementation of EU legal order. (...) The essence of the EAS is hence not the unification in terms of identical national standards for administrative organisations and procedures, but harmonisation of administrative bodies in relation to public services users' (Kopric and Kovac, 2017, pp. 9-11).

    At the European Union (EU)--Western Balkans Summit 'Moving towards European Integration', held in Thessaloniki in 2003, Montenegro joined other countries of the region in 'sharing the objectives of the economic and political union in looking forward to joining the EU'. Pursuant to the conclusions of the Thessaloniki Summit, a special mechanism called the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) was established as the framework for the European course of the Western Balkan countries. The process and the prospects SAP offers serve as an anchor for the reform in the Western Balkans, in the same way the accession process has done in Central and Eastern Europe. Progress of each country towards the EU will depend on its own merits in meeting the SAP conditions which are reviewed by the European Commission in the periodic 'country progress reports'.

    Due to the 'slow pace' of the enlargement process that 'stems not only from the internal situation in the Balkan states, but also from the activities of the EU itself (...) which have caused its neighbourhood policy (including towards the Balkans) to lose a great deal of importance' (Szpala, 2018, p. 2), with only Croatia becoming an EU member, despite these countries' formal progress to accession, the follow-up EU Western Balkans Accession Summit took place some 15 years later (in Sofia, in 2018).

    In the mean time, in 2014, Germany initiated the 'Berlin Process' as an intergovernmental platform for cooperation with the countries of the Western Balkans, in which Austria, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia participated. As part of this process, annual summits attended by EU representatives and heads of state and government of the Western Balkans counties were subsequently held in the 2014-2018 period.

    In this context, the European Commission presented a document titled 'A Credible Enlargement Perspective for an Enhanced EU Engagement with the Western Balkans' in which, inter alia, the issue of administrative reform was emphasized as a relevant factor for future EU membership of the Western Balkans counties, which concluded that:

    'The rule of law must be strengthened significantly. Today, the countries show clear elements of state capture, including links with organised crime and corruption at all levels of government and administration, as well as a strong entanglement of public and private interests. (...) A visibly empowered and independent judiciary and accountable governments and administrations are essential for bringing about the lasting societal change that is needed' (European Commission, 2018, p. 3).

    Montenegro and the EU signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), committing the country to harmonize its legislation with the EU acquis communautaire (2007). The aims of the association between the EU and Montenegro, inter alia, include: support to the efforts of Montenegro to strengthen democracy and the rule of law; to contribute to political, economic and institutional stability in Montenegro; to support the efforts of Montenegro in the approximation of its legislation to that of the EU; to support the efforts of Montenegro to complete the transition into a functioning market economy; to foster regional cooperation in all the fields covered by the Agreement (art. 11, SAA, 2010).

    In reference to public administration, the SAA contains a special provision emphasizing that cooperation shall aim at ensuring the development of an efficient and accountable public administration in Montenegro, notably to support rule of law, the proper functioning of the state institutions for the benefit of the entire population of Montenegro and the smooth development of the relations between the EU and Montenegro. Cooperation in this area shall mainly focus on institution building, including the development and implementation of transparent and impartial recruitment procedures, continued training and the promotion of ethics within the public administration, and shall cover all levels of public administration, including local administration (art. 114, SAA, 2010).

    In the context of the signed SAA, the Government of Montenegro adopted the National Program for Integration (NPI) of Montenegro into the EU (2008), which contained detailed activities necessary for EU membership, represented 'a strategic frame of democratic and economic reforms in the country' (NPI, 2008, p. 19). In the same year, Montenegro applied for EU membership and completed the European Commission questionnaire (2009). Reviewing Montenegro's application, in its Opinion, the European Commission concluded favorably, and recommended Montenegro as candidate country in 2010. The European Council granted Montenegro EU candidate-country status in 2011, and accession negotiations with Montenegro began in 2012, with thirty one chapters opened (European Commission, 2010a, p. 11). (2)

    However, in its Opinion the European Commission indicated that Montenegro had to prove its strong commitment to seven key priorities (in the field of political criteria for EU membership) and in particular to 'complete essential steps in public administration reform including amendments to the law on general administrative procedure and the law on civil servants and state employees and the strengthening of the human resources management authority and the state audit institution, with a view to enhancing professionalism and de-politicization of public administration and to strengthening a transparent, merit-based approach to appointments and promotions' (European Commission, 2010a, p. 11). As emphasized in regional studies on public administration reforms: 'As any complex system, PA is evolving over time. The contemporary society requires good administration in the sense of implementation of the EAS principles, but beyond the formal adoption of PAR strategies and new laws. The latter problem is present especially in Eastern Europe, with gaps due to the ongoing post-socialist transition, the lack of administrative capacity, and gradual but inconsistent reforms.' (Kovac and Jukic, 2017, p. 140).

  3. Institutional and political context

    Early administrative reforms in Montenegro during the 1990s were conditioned by specific...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT