EU Grants Montenegro Candidate Status

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | December 17, 2010, Friday // 16:11
Bulgaria: EU Grants Montenegro Candidate Status Germany Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) chats with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy at the start of the 2nd day of the EU Council summit. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Montenegro has formally been given the status of an EU candidate country at the EU Council summit in Brussels.

EU leaders have agreed to pave the way for Montenegro's future membership in the bloc by approving a pre-drafted statement in which they "agreed to give Montenegro the status of candidate country," without setting a date for the start of talks.

The statement 'went automatically,' without deep discussion, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told the German Press Agency DPA.

Montenegro, with 650 000 inhabitants, separated from Serbia in 2006, but EU officials say that it has already made enough reforms to count as a possible future member.

Yet, more progress will be expected from Montenegro before membership talks can start.

Montenegro thus joins Croatia, Iceland, Macedonia and Turkey as the countries with official EU candidate status.

Croatia is expected to end its membership talks next year. Turkey's progress has been blocked by opposition from Cyprus and France, while Macedonia's has been stalled by the row it has with Greece over its name. Iceland began membership talks in 2010.

"The decision of EU leaders is a major encouragement for Montenegro and an affirmation of our efforts. It is also a challenge and we have to do a lot of work in the seven areas the European Commission named as crucial for the start of accession negotiations and continue on our path to join the EU," Montenegro's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Luksic is quoted as saying.

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Tags: EU, EU Council, EU membership, Montenegro, Croatia, Iceland, turkey, macedonia, EU accession

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