Opinion Factsheet  

EU Enlargement Strategy 2016-2017

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Opinion Number: CDR 93/2017
Rapporteur: PIHELGAS Rait
Commission: CIVEX
Status: Adopted
Date: 12/05/2017
 
underline the fundamental role of local and regional representatives in the enlargement process and encourages enlargement countries in their decentralisation and regionalisation efforts;
support the opinion of the European Commission on the need for a period of consolidation and underline that this must not result in a standstill;
address the fact that public administration at all levels remains weak in most enlargement countries, with limited administrative capacity, a high degree of politicisation and corruption and a lack of transparency. Politicisation at both central and local level remains a serious concern in most of the accession countries, and the blurring of the distinction between state and governing parties needs to be addressed since it raises concerns which erode trust in public institutions.

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

 maintains that the enlargement strategy and the accession of new Member States acts as a guarantee of EU policy implementation and the success of Europe as a whole and affirms that enlargement is the EU's most powerful foreign policy tool;

 notes that the enlargement process continues. The Western Balkans now participate directly in European Commission policies; in addition to the enlargement process, they are also closely involved in EU migration policy and related policy areas, including security;

 underlines that the negotiations need to follow an objective assessment of the progress of the candidate countries in meeting the criteria;

 stresses that Commission communications and reports need to cover local and regional governance more effectively and in more detail;

 stresses the important role of local and regional authorities in the overall enlargement information strategy; broad public support for enlargement is achievable if the potential benefits of enlargement are explained to society at grassroots level;

 welcomes the support and resources offered to candidate countries and potential candidate countries;

 believes that discussions and decisions on the enlargement strategy must take specific account of young people's prospects;

 notes that the rule of law, effective fundamental rights and honest and transparent politics are key requirements for enlargement;

 welcomes the focus on freedom of expression, but stresses that this must be accompanied by higher standards in political culture more generally;

 calls on the Turkish national authorities to ensure that the implementation of any constitutional changes does not undermine the autonomy and capacity of Turkish local authorities;

 confirms its intention to continue developing a dialogue with Turkish mayors within the relevant bodies of the CoR with a view to exchanging best practice.