Updated; 15-04-2015, 00:01

EU and Montenegrin negotiators agreed on 30 March 2015 to open two chapters in the process of negotiating Montenegro’s accession to the European Union.

Meeting in Brussels at the third session of the accession conference at deputies level, they agreed to open chapter 16 on taxation and chapter 30 on external relations.

As a result, out of 35 predetermined chapters, 18 have now been opened for negotiation, of which two have already been provisionally closed.

The negotiators were:

for the EU, Ilze Juhansone, Latvia’s Permanent Representative to the EU; for Montenegro, Andrija Pejović, state secretary for European integration and chief negotiator for the accession of Montenegro to the EU. Benchmarks

The EU considered that some benchmarks would be required to provisionally close both chapters. These include legislative amendments by Montenegro and the administrative capacity to implement and enforce EU acquis in the respective chapters.

For chapter 16, the following benchmarks are to be met:

Montenegro should adopt legislation in areas requiring further alignment. It should in particular make significant progress towards alignment in the areas of VAT, excise duties and direct taxation. It should submit to the Commission a detailed timetable to reach full alignment with the EU acquis by the date of accession. Montenegro has adequate administrative capacity and the required infrastructure in its central and local tax offices to enforce its tax legislation and to collect taxes and control its taxpayers. Additionally, it should ensure that the Central Liaison Office and the Central Excise Liaison Office are sufficiently staffed and operational upon accession. Montenegro should demonstrate sufficient progress in developing tax administration IT systems, including those related to interconnectivity. This includes in particular those for the VAT (VIES), excise duties (EMCS) and the IT systems necessary for tax cooperation and exchange of information in the field of direct taxation. For chapter 30, the following benchmark is to be met:

Montenegro should present to the Commission an action plan for its remaining preparations in terms of legislative alignment. The plan should bring international agreements into conformity with the EU acquis. It should enhance administrative and control capacity to ensure full application and enforcement of the acquis in this chapter from the day of accession. Next steps

The EU will monitor all specific issues mentioned in its common positions to ensure Montenegro’s administrative capacity and its capacity to complete legal alignment.

Monitoring of progress in the alignment with and implementation of the acquis will continue throughout the negotiations. A final assessment of the conformity of Montenegro’s legislation with the acquis and of its implementation capacity can only be made at a later stage. The conference will therefore return to these chapters at the appropriate moment.

An accession conference at ministerial level is planned for June 2015 in order to take the process forward.