ECB to help Montenegro central bank meet EU standards
The European Central Bank said Tuesday it will help the Central Bank of Montenegro meet European central banking standards, as a part of the western Balkan state's ambitions to join the EU.
The ECB "has today launched a Eurosystem cooperation programme with the Central Bank of Montenegro. The European Union (EU) has allocated almost 300,000 euros ($387,000) ... to fund the programme," it said in a statement.
The aim of the programme was to assist the Central Bank of Montenegro in its preparations for joining the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), once the country had qualified for EU membership, the statement said.
"Within the framework of the programme, a needs-assessment report will be prepared, identifying further progress required to meet the EU's central banking standards."
ECB president Mario Draghi and the governor of the Central Bank of Montenegro, Milojica Dakic, signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday.
In July, the EU Commission's new chief Jean-Claude Junckner said the bloc will freeze expansion over the next five years, saying the EU "needs to mark a pause in its enlargement process so that we can consolidate what has been done with 28" member states.
The bloc expanded rapidly from 15 to 28 member states in the past 10 years, with the former Communist countries of eastern Europe joining en masse.
Croatia was the last country to join the EU, in July last year, and Serbia began membership talks in January.
Since then the pace of enlargement has slowed, with the prospects for Balkan neighbours also in talks such as Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Hercegovina uncertain.
© 2014 AFP