Following a request to draw up an opinion from the Bulgarian Presidency, the CoR will propose that decentralisation must be a strong pillar for democratic reform. Opening the debate on his opinion as the rapporteur-general, Franz Schausberger underlined the European Commission has presented “a very ambitions and credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkan Countries combined with the very clear statement that the Western Balkan countries cannot join the EU in the condition they are in today and they have to meet all the membership criteria without any exceptions“. Under these preconditions and with strong political, he noted that Serbia and Montenegro could potentially be ready for membership by 2025. Accession negotiations could be opened with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the basis of totally fulfilled conditions. With sustained effort and engagement, Bosnia and Herzegovina could become a candidate-State and Kosovo could advance on its European path. Summarising his position, the rapporteur stressed:
From left to right: Michaela Petz-Michez (Head of the liaison office of the region of Salzburg to the EU), Franz Schausberger (IRE-Chairman, EU-Special Advisor) and Petri Mirala (Policy Officer, Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External affairs, CIVEX)
Despite the long term planning presented by the European Commission, the urgency of adoption of this opinion is generated by the EU-Western Balkans Summit on 17th of May 2018, in Sofia, organised by the Bulgarian Presidency and where the CoR has been invited to make a strong input. The opinion, drawn up by Franz Schausberger, is due for adoption at the CoR Plenary on 22-23 March.
Source: EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions / NEWS, 06.02.2018