About the ILO in Montenegro

An advanced EU accession candidate with structural labour market challenges

After a sharp drop of GDP in 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country saw a strong rebound in 2021 and 2022. The 'Europe Now' fiscal reform programme supported the post-pandemic recovery, and external imbalances decreased due to a strong recovery of the tourism industry which is of crucial importance for the Adriatic country.

The per capita income is the highest among the six Western Balkan economies, but the convergence with the EU needs to be accelerated. While per capita income was only 41 per cent of the average EU income in 2010, it increased to 50 per cent in 2019, before dropping to 45 per cent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and partially recovering to 48 per cent in 2021.

The employment rates are back to pre-pandemic levels (55 per cent, 20 to 64 years), but still much lower than the EU average (75 per cent). The key challenges of the Montenegrin labour market remain the same as before the pandemic and include elevated youth unemployment (32 per cent, 15 to 29 years, 2021), high youth inactivity (26 per cent of youth are neither in employment, education, nor training compared against 14 per cent in EU), and high levels of long-term unemployment with almost 70 per cent of the unemployed being without employment for more than a year.

The ILO in Montenegro

Since gaining independence in 2006, the country ratified 76 International Labour Standards (Conventions), including all ten 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 of 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.

The main framework for the delivery of ILO support to Montenegro has been the Decent Country Work Program 2019 to 2021. ILO and partners in Montenegro are currently working on a new DWCP for the forthcoming years.

Recent ILO support focused on:
  • Providing better access to public employment services for vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, long term unemployed or youth;
  • Modernizing labour market administration through digitalization;
  • Designing a Youth Guarantee Scheme;
  • Improving safety at work and strengthening labour inspectorates;
  • Supporting the Social and economic Council;
  • Promoting alternative dispute resolution for labour conflicts, and
  • Supporting Employers and Workers’ organizations in improving advocacy and service delivery to members.

Text last updated 5/23