The European Commission has paid a first instalment of €28 million in non-repayable financial aid to Montenegro. This important budget support assistance is intended for mitigating the economic fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic and supporting the authorities’ social and economic response.
This €28 million is just one part of the support available to Montenegro within the budget support resilience contract of €40.5 million. This budget support is part of the €53 million in non-repayable assistance, which the European Union granted to Montenegro for the procurement of urgent medical equipment and for assisting socially underprivileged individuals, entrepreneurs, companies, the health sector and other sectors that have been the most seriously affected by the COVID-19 crisis. It complements the € 30 million Macro Financial Assistance that the EU made available to Montenegro in October.
The disbursement of the second and final instalment of the support to the total amount of €40.5 million, will be conditional on Montenegro meeting a set of commitments relating to social and economic factors. The most important conditions are that the Government should use the EU funds to support as many small businesses as possible, in particular to help them pay their workers’ salaries, and to continue funding social allowances for underprivileged children, elderly, disabled people and families in need. Other important conditions are that social allowances are not reduced and that the transparancy and access to information regarding budget expenditures is improved. An additional €0.5 million of this €40.5 million will go towards the cooperation with the International Labour Organisation in supporting the roll out of employment programmes aimed at helping people get back into work.
The COVID-19 financial response also arrives at the same time as the recently published Economic and Investment Plan and preparations by both Montenegro and the European Union for the new IPA III programme allocated for the next seven years. This underlines the EU’s continuing support to Montenegro as well as the wider Western Balkans region.