Montenegro saw its first chapter in negotiations for joining the European Union – on science and research – successfully closed earlier this week (18 December).
EU commissioner Štefan Füle said this marks the start of the accession negotiations entering a real substance. Research and development “are essential to push innovation and thus economic growth” he added.
“In this work, Montenegro has kept a close eye on developments in the European Union. It has actively participated in the EU Research Programmes so that by the time it applied for membership it was already on track for fulfilling the requirements for accession on the Science and Research chapter – Chapter 25.”
“We expect Montenegro to take the enlargement torch from Croatia, continue to play an active role in regional cooperation and remain a factor of stability in the Western Balkans,” Füle concluded.
This was a “big thing for Montenegro” and it will “considerably motivate our scientific community to set new targets” Sanja Vlahović, the science minister, told the local media.
The achievement included increasing science funding – “which was especially painful when we started” Vlahović said – increasing the intensity of international cooperation and creating an environment that allows science to become a generator of innovations.
Next week (27 December) the government will discuss a proposal for a new science strategy for 2012-2016, one drawn up with EU recommendations in mind. The draft strategy will set science funding to reach 1.5% of GDP by 2020, and 3% by 2025.
Montenegro currently invests around 0.43% of GDP in science, or 13.3 million Euros in total (around 11,000 Euros per researcher), up from 0.13% GDP in 2009 and 0.41% GDP in 2011.
The country also plans to open its first science technology park and a centre of excellence next year.