Joint Consultative Committee between the European Committee of the Regions and Montenegro held its 16th meeting on 3 November 2021, in Brussels-based hybrid format, under the joint leadership of its two Co-Chairs, Roberto Ciambetti (IT/ECR), President of the Regional Council of Veneto, and Aleksandar Kašćelan, Mayor of Cetinje.
Two main topics were discussed: Recent developments in Montenegro and their repercussions on the process of Montenegro's accession to the European Union, and Digital politics: Internet and social networks as means for (dis)information and political mobilisation of citizens – experience from Montenegro and the EU.
Dr Mark Speich (DE/EPP), Chair of the CoR CIVEX Commission spoke under the first panel. He expressed the continued support of the CoR to Montenegro on its path towards the EU. He also emphasised indispensable role of tolerance for people of different identity and persuasions, open dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties, and cooperation between the national and local authorities for the democratic development of Montenegro and the wellbeing of its citizens. Riccardo Serri, Head of the European integration, political, press and information section of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, gave the main highlights of the European Commission's 2021 Country report on Montenegro.
Darko Mrvaljević, Chair of the Committee for European integration and international cooperation of the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, expressed continued uncompromising commitment of Montenegro's local authorities to the European values and the country's integration to the EU. He also expressed discontent with the slowing down of the process, caused at least partly by the national government's policies that led to the loss of expertise and institutional memory in the national accession negotiations team.
In the debate, Petar Smolović, Mayor of Bijelo Polje, criticised the new national government for abruptly stopping the financing of previously agreed local projects, such as those in Bijelo Polje, and its lack of communication and cooperation with the municipalities. Mindaugas Sinkevičius (LT/PES) also took part in the debate.
Under the thematic panel on Digital politics, Dr Milica Vučković from the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb gave a review of the ways of use and abuse of Internet and social networks in the practice of various political actors in a number of European countries.
Draško Đuranović, editor in chief, of Pobjeda, the oldest daily in Montenegro, gave an overview of media scene in Montenegro and its interplay with politics. As an example of the change from traditional to Internet-based information, he cited the fact that Pobjeda Internet news portal has twenty times more readers than the same printed daily newspaper. He criticised the European Commission country reports on Montenegro for not being sufficiently thorough as regards the media, citing specifically the notion that RTCG, national public broadcaster, is opening up for differing political views.
The JCC members Vincent Chauvet (FR/Renew) and Isolde Ries (DE/PES) took part in the debate.