EU and Montenegrin civil society discuss digitalisation and state of the media sector

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Freedom of expression and the media remains a serious concern in Montenegro

The last meeting of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) took place in Brussels on 19 December. The JCC's members discussed the current state of play and the work ahead in Montenegro's accession negotiations to the EU and adopted a final declaration. The JCC stressed the need to involve the social partners as well as other civil society organisations in all aspects of policy development and EU accession negotiations. The declaration urged the EU institutions to acknowledge that Montenegro is the frontrunner in the EU's accession negotiations, with thirty open chapters and three of them being provisionally closed.

  • Digitalisation as a tool for social and economic development

The authorities in Montenegro should increase their efforts to implement legislation on digitalisation. The final JCC declaration stressed the fact that digitalisation needs to be integrated and monitored when it comes to building and maintenance of critical infrastructure (energy and transport) and the provision of services of general interest (such as e-government and e-health). The JCC's members pointed out the crucial importance of social dialogue to alleviate the effects of the digital revolution on the future of work and on labour relations.

  • Public administration reform

The final declaration urged the Montenegrin authorities to reconsider the adoption of provisions that would seriously restrict the good practice of conducting public consultations.

  • The situation of civil society organisations in Montenegro

The JCC's members expressed their regret that the Montenegrin government drafted the Strategy for the Development of NGOs 2018-2020 without the meaningful involvement of civil society in the final stages of the process.  The JCC raised concerns about the growing number of cases which violate trade union rights and discriminate against trade union members.

  • The state of the media sector in Montenegro

The final JCC declaration pointed out that freedom of the media in Montenegro remains a serious concern, with the country being ranked 106th out of 180 countries listed in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. The JCC once again called on the authorities to create a safe environment for professional and independent investigative journalism, free from political and economic pressure. 

Background: The EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) is one of the bodies set up under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Montenegro. It enables civil society organisations from both sides to monitor Montenegro's progress towards joining the European Union and to adopt recommendations for the attention of the government of Montenegro and the EU institutions. The JCC is made up of twelve members, six from each side, representing the EESC and Montenegrin civil society.