“Things are moving in cycles [in Montenegro], as in most parts of the Balkans,“ says Partner Sasa Vujacic of Vujacic Law Offices. “This is an election year in Montenegro and that will be reflected on the business sector for sure, as we approach election day.“ Vujacic reports that the election date “should be no later than October of this year“ and says that, although more political influence will be felt in all sectors of business as it approaches, “not a lot of changes in Montenegro's political structure are to be expected."
Vujacic believes the recent outbreak of Coronavirus is likely to have a significant impact in the first half of the year. “We all know that it is very close,“ he sighs. “While I don’t think that the situation will be as it is in Italy,“ where some 12 cities have already been quarantined, “there are some measures being announced by the government.“
Vujacic says that the EU accession process that is underway is likely to be the biggest catalyst of change for the country’s legislative framework. “A new methodology for the accession process has been developed and the powers that be are expected to decide in March whether, going forward, the old methodology will be used or this new one.“ Still, he says, there have been no “negotiations on concrete things“ since last November/December in the process.
“Of course, not making any progress on the accession front does not mean that nothing is happening because of it,“ Vujacic notes, pointing out that “new legislation is being passed domestically quite often.“ However, he says, these new laws are primarily procedural and technical in nature, and he reports that “hey bring about no tangible changes, for the most part.“ What is making a difference, he claims, is the country's new Labor Act, which "gives more oversight and control to the state," he says, "on everything from the hiring process to the division of working hours.“
Vujacic describes Montenegro's economy as “pretty much stable for the most part,“ though he says that there have been few new major projects in the past few months. Still, he says, an examination of some potential reserves of oil and natural gas is expected to wrap up soon, and “it is to be seen in the first half of the year if there’s anything of worth that may be worth exploring.“ Vujacic says that “it is most likely going to be natural gas reserves – and the market feels this way too – but we have to wait for the process to finish first.“