Successive amendments to the agreement were introduced in the original document. This consolidated version is only of documentary value. Negotiations for a Stabilization and Association Agreement (ASA) between Montenegro and the European Union began in September 2006. The agreement was officially signed on 15 October 2007 and came into force on 1 May 2010, following the ratification of the ASA by the 27 EU member states.   The SA Council commended Montenegro for its ongoing commitment to regional cooperation and for its constructive role in maintaining regional stability and promoting good-neighbourly relations. He welcomed the active participation in many regional initiatives and good bilateral relations with other partners in the region and EU Member States. The SA Council welcomed the continuation of the meetings in the form of joint committees established under the bilateral agreements in accordance with the SAA and the signing of the remainder of the bilateral regional cooperation agreement under Article 15 of the SA agreement with Kosovo. The decision has been in effect since March 29, 2010 and the agreement since May 1, 2010. The visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Montenegro and the EU came into force on 1 January 2008.  Montenegro was placed on the visa-free nationals list on 19 December 2009, allowing its nationals to enter the Schengen area without a visa, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania when travelling with biometric passports.
 The visa liberalisation process does not cover travel to Ireland or the United Kingdom, as these countries implement their own visa regimes outside the Schengen Agreement. In October 2007, a Stabilization and Association Agreement (ASA) was signed as a framework for Montenegro`s route to the EU. After its ratification, it came into force in May 2010. Trade relations between the EU and Montenegro have been institutionalised since the conclusion of an interim agreement since 2008. In addition, an agreement on visa facilitation came into force in December 2009, under which Montenegrin citizens can enter the EU as visa-free tourists. Montenegro faces environmental, judicial and criminal problems that could hinder its offer.  Montenegro signed an agreement with the Bulgarian government in December 2007, in which Bulgaria will assist Montenegro in its Euro-Atlantic and European integration over the next three years.  To work on these issues, Montenegro`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration has a special agency for EU membership, the support office of the chief negotiator. The aim of the office is to support the task of the chief negotiator for Montenegro`s accession to the EU, Aleksandar Drljevic. The agreement with Kosovo was the first to be signed after the Lisbon Treaty came into force, which brought down the EU`s legal personality.
  An EU representative in Kosovo stated that “unlike the ASA with other countries in the region, this agreement will be exclusively the EU agreement.