underline the fundamental role of local and regional representatives in the enlargement process and encourages enlargement countries (Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Turkey) 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.
reiterate the recommendation to the Commission that it go into greater detail in its future enlargement strategy reports about the situation of regional and local self-government
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 key points of the opinion were presented during the meetings of the WGs and JCCs and the findings were debated together with local authorities from enlargement countries.
Furthermore, the opinion was also presented and debated in the second edition of the CoR Enlargement Day, which took place on 1-2 June 2016, with the participation of CIVEX members, members of the WGs and JCCs and JCCs co-chairs, and a number guest of speakers from the enlargement countries and from European Institutions and Associations.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that the European Commission expects no further enlargement during its present mandate, however this must not result in a standstill;
- acknowledges that time is needed for preparations, but points out that it is essential to use this time well in order to advance the enlargement process through rigorous and fair conditionality and steady progress in the related tasks ahead, and by a credible, realistic European perspective in order to avoid losing the engagement and motivation of candidates and potential candidates for enlargement;
- stresses that the enlargement process should be an inclusive exercise involving all of society; underlines that the role of the local and regional level is essential;
- welcomes the reference by the Commission to the key role of local and regional authorities (LRAs); stresses, however, as it has done on numerous previous occasions, that better and more detailed focus is needed in future communications and reports on local and regional governance, even when there is no separate acquis chapter or established EU model on the issue of decentralisation and multi-level governance;
- stresses the importance of the fight against corruption at all levels of government and society, underlining that credible results in this field usually require progress at local level as well.