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Functional administration and commitment to agricultural production are key to overcoming challenges

Functional administration and commitment to agricultural production are key to overcoming challenges
Published date: 08.10.2020 11:00 | Author: KEI

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The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the agriculture and fisheries sector, and addressing these challenges ahead requires a functioning public administration and continuity in the progress which was made in previous years, it was stated during the 13th meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Subcommittee between Montenegro and the European Commission.

At the13th annual meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Subcommittee between Montenegro and the European Commission, representatives of Montenegrin institutions presented the progress made in the process of reform in area of negotiation chapters 11 - Agriculture and rural development, 12 - Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy and 13 – Fisheries, with special emphasis on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on this sector. The subcommittee is the annual official meeting between the EU and Montenegro to exchange on the development of the sectors discussed in the frame of the Stabilisation and association agreement between the EU and Montenegro.

Deputy Chief Negotiator Marko Mrdak pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic may plunge Montenegrin and European economies into recession, which is why countries should take urgent measures to mitigate the long-term impact on the food sector.

“Covid situation has showed us that Montenegro should be more devoted to agricultural production in order to make significantly higher share in gross domestic production and reduce our dependence on imports”, Mrdak said.

He said that within the framework of Chapter 11, the activities defined by the Action plan were carried out properly, but that the implementation of certain ones has been delayed due to the pandemic situation and that their realization is expected in the following period.

He pointed out that the Government of Montenegro had adopted a Special Assistance Programme for Agriculture and Fisheries and that all measures defined by Agrobudget whose implementation were planned during the measures which were adopted as a response to the outbreak of Covid 19 virus have been implemented, what is of great importance for preserving the stability of the agricultural sector. Regarding Chapter 12, he informed that the implementation of the Strategy with the action plans adopted in 2015, and updated in 2019 is being continuously implemented. He reminded on the continuously implementation of the National Program for Improvement of the Raw Milk Quality as well as the National Program for Improvement of Facilities for Products of Animal Origin and Facilities for By-Products of Animal Origin as obligations arising from the closing benchmarks. In the area covered by Chapter 13, he pointed out that the ability to implement laws related to market development, structural measures and state aid and aquaculture is essential for the overall success in reaching EU standards. In the end, he emphasized the importance of strengthening administrative capacities and stressed that Montenegro continues to make efforts to strengthen them.

Barbara Hesus-Jimeno, Deputy Head of the Montenegro Unit at DG NEAR, Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, pointed out that the Subcommittee is an important opportunity to review Montenegro’s progress on EU accession negotiations in agriculture and rural development (chapter 11), Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy (chapter 12) and fisheries (chapter 13), in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely affected the sector.

“Addressing these challenges requires a functioning public administration and building on the progress that has been achieved over the past years”, Jesus-Jimeno said, referring to the key role of Montenegro’s administration at operational level to allow the future Government to hit the ground running and progress on the EU-accession path, on which Montenegro is well advanced.

Co-chair of the Subcommittee, Director General at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Darko Konjević, stressed that the Montenegrin administration has worked diligently during the pandemic, expressing his hope that this would be also confirmed by the Montenegro Report of the European Commission, which is about to be presented during the day.

GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTENEGRO
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