Involving cities and regions is key to making EU enlargement work

Athens, 20 September 2018

The Committee of the Region's Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX) today adopted its recommendations for the EU's enlargement policy with a draft opinion drawn up by PES member Franco Iacop from Friuli Venezia Giulia Regional Council (Italy). It assesses with a regional and local focus the recent progress of the candidate countries (Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) and potential candidate countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) towards accession to the European Union.

 "Future EU membership is a tangible reality for the Western Balkans but it needs political commitment from all levels of government. Given that 70% of EU legislation is delivered by regions and cities, local and regional governments from candidate countries must be fully engaged throughout the EU accession process. Through close cooperation with them, we will encourage their reforms and efforts to transform ambitions into reality", said Iacop.  

Stressing that "the enlargement process must continue to be an EU priority and the rule of law, justice, fundamental rights, and respect for and the protection of minorities must remain at the core of the process", Franco Iacop makes a series of key points, including:

  • welcoming the European Commission's proposal to open accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania in June 2019;
  • calling for the countries of the region and their populations to reject any form of nationalism and inward-looking identity politics and support the European ideal with renewed determination;
  • emphasising the importance of the partnership with Turkey, while expressing disappointment at the fact that developments both before and since the Turkish general elections held in June have led to a continual erosion of respect for the values and principles underpinning the rule of law; 
  • stressing the need to launch tangible initiatives to foster a bottom-up approach which focuses on the benefits of the enlargement process for citizens' daily lives and improves their standards of living.

 

The draft opinion is scheduled to be adopted at the December 2018 CoR plenary session.

Since 2006  the CoR has been working with local and regional authorities from countries seeking EU membership, developing structured work programmes with Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia through joint consultative committees and less structured dialogue with other countries in the region and with Turkey.

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