That’s what we’ll explore below.
You see, the Montenegrin government had already announced that the program would expire late 2020.
Yet early March this year, the government held a cabinet meeting to discuss what would follow after the program.
There are plans that Montenegro aims to launch a different scheme – one designed for “high skill professionals” instead of high net worth investors.
What Brought About the Changes?
For starters, an official statement by the government seems to have EU standards in-mind.
The Montenegrin government bases its worries on how the EU treated the Cyprus and Malta programs before their joining of the EU.
After all, Montenegro has been in long negotiations to join the EU. Doing so requires the country to modify its CIP standards. Specifically, the Montenegrin government sees that an economic CIP conflicts with EU principles.
That is, member programs must be under the scrutiny of EU institutions – ensuring that it doesn’t attract unqualified applicants to the union.
The only model that the EU seems to favor (with regard to CIPs) is the one applied in Portugal, which might not suit the economic interests of Montenegro.
Another Reason – Unsustainability.
The Montenegrin government sees that the old program was developed based on inconclusive data.
Also, the government believes that the program hasn’t garnered the results it had aspired for when launching its program.
The old program had a cap of 2000 applications envisioned by 2021. Yet, the program had only received 131 applications thus far.
Out of the 131, 12 were denied and 37 were approved. The rest are still in a processing stage.
Also, of the 37 programs approved, only 15 have transformed into development projects – far less than what the Montenegrin government had in-mind.
As a result, the Montenegrin government sees that the program’s contribution is questionable to the country’s interests.
Basically, the Montenegrin government wants a program that has excellent economic contributions. But at the same time, it doesn’t want to raise EU alarms by providing easy naturalization routes.
How Do Critics View the New Changes?
First, many critics see that the low application amount is a biased picture of the program’s performance.
For starters, while the program’s official launch was in January 2019, it wasn’t fully available until January 2020. This means that the program has been operational for a single year.
Also, the first submitted application was in October 2019, and the first approved was in February 2020.
This means that passport issuance and investor access to Montenegro hadn’t occurred until 9 months before the program’s cancellation.
During that timeframe, many of the program’s structures were setup late. Those included escrow structures, applications for minors and spouses, and development approvals.
In essence, many view the Montenegrin government’s treatment of the program as impatient, specifically since many programs require 1 to 2 years before judging their effectiveness.
Were Those Changes Expected?
Perhaps. Some assume that the program was changed as a result of worries about politics. But others see it as a domestic politics issue.
That is, the Montenegrin government has been through 3 governments that supervised the program before its suspension.
But there’s still hope. Some compare the Montenegrin program to that of Bulgaria, which was seen as a failure at first, only for it to stay active and with good results.