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Montenegro has applied for EU membership

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Libere Paroli

Written by Dániel Antal

During the last days of 2008 Montenegro has submitted a formal application to join the European Union. Montenegro has gained independence in 2006 and signed a pre-accession Stabilisation and Accession Agreement with the EU in October 2007. It’s economy is doing remarkably good although it is highly dependent on Russian investors.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the move, saying to “Today Montenegro has reached a historical milestone marking the country’s important engagement to common European values and fundamentals.” The Council - the institution representing EU member states - is now to ask the European Commission for an opinion on Podgorica’s membership application. Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic had stated he expected Brussels to give its opinion during the Czech Republic’s EU presidency, which has given a highh priority to the Southestern enlargement.

This week’s Economist magazine has a well-balanced and relatively lengthy article on Montenegro’s post-independence economic growth.

In 2006, the year it declared independence, Montenegro’s economy grew by 8.6%. In 2007 it accelerated to 10.7%. Last year the government forecast 8%, but the correct figure will be lower. And in 2009 the government is planning for growth of only 5%—and the IMF is talking of a mere 2%. (...T) he government is (...) besides coping with the general fallout from the global financial crisis, it faces two home-grown problems. The biggest is a huge aluminium factory on the edge of Podgorica. Its fumes are toxic, it makes a loss and it consumes gargantuan quantities of subsidised electricity. (...) In December the government had to bail out a troubled bank owned, in large part, by his brother and, to a lesser extent, by his sister and himself (the prime minister).

Montenegro’s dependence on Mr Depraska’s aluminium plant is a great worry - it produces 40% of the GDP.

Although there are some worrying aspects about the Montenegrin economy and its prime minister’s business conduct, it Montenegro has performed much better since its independence than most European analyst had predicted. I think the Montenegro’s membership will add the European stability and cohesion, and given its tiny size of 650 thousand inhabitants and fantastic natural resources it will be very easy to integrate into the European Union.

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