About the ILO in Montenegro

An advanced EU accession candidate with structural labour market challenges

Since its independence in 2006, Montenegro had to heavily invest into an expansion of government capacities to provide public services supplied before by the Federation with Serbia. In addition to this challenging political transition, the country also has to deal with an incomplete economic transition.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism-dependent economy particularly hard. GDP dropped by 15% in 2020. The pandemic also reversed the positive labour market trends from previous years. The employment rate decreased by an estimated 7% (from 61% in Q3 of 2019 to 53% in Q3 of 2020) despite several state support packages to protect jobs. As in other countries of Southeast Europe, employment losses mainly translated into rising inactivity rather than unemployment. The pandemic exacerbated the structural problems of the Montenegrin labour markets from before the pandemic, i.e. low employment and high inactivity, especially for youth, women, and the low skilled, as well as elevated levels of informal employment.

ILO Interventions in Montenegro

Since gaining independence, the country ratified 76 International Labour Standards (Conventions), including all eight Fundamental Conventions. Montenegro is a candidate country for EU membership and negotiations are relatively advanced as compared to other countries from the Western Balkans. The ILO technical assistance focuses therefore on developing an EU-compatible framework for labour laws, as well as social and employment policies. The new Labor Code adopted by the Parliament in 2019 is an example for ILO support to EU alignment. Recent efforts include the ratification of the new ILO Convention eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work (C190) and the collective bargaining convention (C154).
The main framework for the delivery of ILO support to Montenegro is the Decent Country Work Programme 2019 to 2021. The current ILO support focuses on:
  • Provide better access to public employment services for vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, long term unemployed or youth;
  • Modernise labour market administration processes through digitalisation;
  • Strengthen labour inspectorates;
  • Support social and economic councils;  
  • Introduce alternative dispute resolution for labour conflicts, and
  • Support Employers and Workers’ organizations in improving advocacy and service delivery to members.   
Text last updated 5/21.